An 18-year-old who got vaccinated despite his parents' wishes has been invited to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Ethan Lindenberger, in a post on YouTube on Saturday, March 2, shared that he was invited to speak as part of the committee's examination of the recent outbreaks of preventable diseases, including measles, in the United States. He will make an appearance on Tuesday, March 5, alongside John Wiesman, Washington state's secretary of health and Saad B. Omer, a professor from Emory University in Georgia.
He said in the video that he is looking forward to speaking in Washington, DC. about outbreaks of preventable diseases as well as addressing misinformation that causes these outbreaks.
Teen Rebels Against Anti-Vaccine Parents
The story of Lindenberger caught the attention of the global media amid growing anti-vaccination sentiment around the world, which caused a flurry of measles outbreaks in countries like the Philippines, Israel, and Ukraine. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 159 confirmed cases of measles in 10 states and declared six outbreaks since Jan. 2019.
Lindenberger said that he never questioned his parents' decision not to vaccinate him and his siblings. However, a few years ago, he started having doubts after he had seen angry responses to his mother's social media posts about the supposed dangers of vaccines.
He was 13 or 14 when he started doing his own research by reading peer-reviewed studies and articles published by the CDC and the World Health Organization. Eventually, he landed on Reddit where he asked the online community for advice on how to get vaccinated without his parents' permission.
"As the title explains, my parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. It's stupid and I've had countless arguments over the topic," he wrote on the website in November. "But, because of their beliefs I've never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I'm still alive."
By December, the teen received a battery of standard shots, including for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HPV, and influenza.
Ohio is one of the 17 states that allow parents not to vaccinate their children for philosophical or moral reasons. WHO previously listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top global health threats for 2019.
Persisting Anti-Vaccine Beliefs
Unfortunately for Lindenberger, his parents remain firm on their belief not to vaccinate their children. In a conversation with Undark, an online magazine, Jill Wheeler said that she felt betrayed by his son, "like him spitting on me, saying 'You don't know anything, I don't trust you with anything.'"
Wheeler has four other kids, including a 2-year-old. Linderberger does not believe that his siblings will be allowed by their parents to get vaccinated at all.
The CDC assures that the vaccines have gone through thorough testing to make sure that they are safe and effective.