Published: Thu, March 07, 2019
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Teen testifies to Senate why he defied his mom to get vaccinated

Teen testifies to Senate why he defied his mom to get vaccinated

An Ohio teenager who defied his anti-vaxxer mother's wishes and got all his shots at 18 has testified before Congress about unsafe the spread of misinformation is.

The US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing Tuesday called "Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?".

But Lindenberger, still 18, said he did his own research and became convinced that information in defence of vaccines outweighed the concerns of the so-called anti-vax movement.

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Similar unsafe outbreaks have occurred in Brazil, France and Ukraine. But, he chose to catch up on the vaccines in December 2018 against his parents' wishes.

"It was a slow progression to start to see evidence" of the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, he said, adding that he grew intrigued by so many people who "disagreed with my mom" and sought to dismiss her claims online. Amid growing concerns about its negative effect on public health, Amazon has reportedly begun removing anti-vaccine documentaries from Prime Video.

"For certain individuals and organizations that spread misinformation, they instill fear into the public for their own gain selfishly and do so knowing that their information is incorrect".

Vaccination against a list of diseases is required to attend school, but 17 states, including OH, allow some type of non-medical exemption for "personal, moral or other beliefs", according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seventeen states allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children based on philosophical grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and all but three-California, Mississippi and West Virginia-allow a child to be exempt from immunization for religious reasons.

What got Ethan's vaccination quest noticed was his November post on the discussion website Reddit: "My parents are kind of stupid and don't believe in vaccines".

All states require children to get an MMR vaccination prior to entering kindergarten.

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He received thousands of responses, and the USA media came calling. In Cleveland, cases of the vaccine-preventable hepatitis A also doubled last summer.

"You may or may not know I am a physician", Cassidy said. Isakson said, "I'd love to have Thanksgiving dinner at your house".

Ethan's mother did not testify.

Lindenberger's mother, Jill Wheeler, was surprised by her son's decision but said she was "proud of him, for standing for what he believes in, even if it is against what I believe". Instead, he attributed her position to misinformation on vaccines that is widely circulated on social media and the Internet.

"If the nurse's aide is not immunized, she can be a Typhoid Mary, if you will, bringing disease to many who are immunocompromised", Cassidy said, adding that in a school setting, requirements may be in place to protect the health of students, including those who might have weakened immune systems and therefore cannot get immunized.

Lindenberger said one of the main challenges now is to counter the online anti-vaccination sites that peddle conspiracy theories.

"People don't resonate well with information and data", Lindenberger said.

John Boyle, president and CEO of the nonprofit Immune Deficiency Foundation, said at the hearing that "the current decline in vaccine usage is literally bringing back plagues of the past".

"When you convince parents that. their children are at risk, that's a much more substantial way to cause people to change their minds".

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