Teen defies anti-vaccine parents, gets shots

Henrietta Brewer
February 12, 2019

Ethan Lindenberger, an 18-year-old high school senior in OH, said he began to fear for his health after reading scientific papers about the benefits of immunizations.

"I have seven children; five have not been vaccinated", said Wheeler. "I had grown up hearing that and when I started to move on to social media, you know, 13, 14, there was very online heated debate".

Ethan Lindenberger gets first vaccine as Washington state struggles with a measles outbreak.

Growing up, Ethan said his parents would tell him about the negative effects of getting vaccinated - including that they could cause brain damage and autism. "I was doing it for my safety and the safety of others".

But it wasn't until speaking with friends that he realized he was the only one out of his peer group to not have had the life-saving vaccinations.

"There's a degree of feeling like, you know, he doesn't trust what I say as a parent", Wheeler said.

Across Canada, only a single new case of laboratory-confirmed measles was reported between December 30, 2018, and January 26, 2019, according to Health Canada's most recent measles and rubella monitoring reports.

Experts say that, as diseases have become less common, people don't remember a time from before vaccines were commonplace.

According to an investigation by KREM-TV, teens under the age of majority are generally prohibited from obtaining shots without their parents' permission in the U.S. There are, however, some exceptions under what is referred to as the "mature minor doctrine", where teens who can prove a certain level of independence such as being emancipated or pregnant, for instance - and are able to find a health care provider willing to give them the shots knowing they could be sued. "When we don't see the devastation caused by vaccine-preventable diseases on a daily basis, some people discount the vital need to keep their families safe by vaccinating them". His 16-year-old brother, who is now considering also getting his shots, will have to wait.

The teen made a decision to do some research and presented new information to his mother, Jill wheeler, to try and change her mind, including a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that debunked the autism myth. He told NPR that his mother remained defiant, saying, "That's what they want you to think".

Disproven and dubious theories about the safety of childhood vaccines are pitting an OH mother against her teenage son. That death brought up discussions about whether to do away with the "philosophical or personal beliefs" exemption to vaccinating a child before they're allowed to enter a public school, which inevitably led to a flame war between Jim Carrey and half of Twitter.

The teenager from Norwalk, Ohio wrote that his "parents are kind of stupid and don't believe in vaccines" and he was looking for information on how to get vaccinated for diseases such as measles, polio, mumps, and chickenpox.

Since Ethan is now legally an adult his parents can not stop him from getting vaccinations.

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