A Teen Got Vaccinated Against His Parents’ Wishes Will Testify Before Congress

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Ethan Lindenberger began by questioning his parents’ anti-vaccine stances and eventually got himself inoculated, a rebellion that caught the attention of the national media – and now Congress.

The 18-year-old from Ohio announced Saturday on YouTube that he had been invited to speak before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at a hearing Tuesday devoted to examining outbreaks of preventable diseases. He will appear alongside experts such as John Wiesman, Washington state’s secretary of health, and Saad B. Omer, a professor at Emory University, according to the committee’s website.

“I’m looking forward to speaking in Washington, D.C.,” Lindenberger said in the video.

Lindenberger’s story has caught on amid a measles outbreak that has affected dozens of people in the United States, prompting increasing scrutiny of parents who do not get their children vaccinated. The teenager said he lived for years without being vaccinated because of his mother’s belief in vaccine conspiracies. So Lindenberger began to do his own homework, consulting scientific research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In November, he posted on Reddit asking for advice about how to get vaccinated. In December, Lindenberger went to the Ohio Department of Health in his hometown and received a battery of standard vaccinations that included hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza and HPV, according to records reviewed by The Washington Post. Because he was 18, he could legally make the decision to do so.

“I looked into it; it was clear there was way more evidence in defense of vaccines,” he told The Post in February.

His mother, Jill Wheeler, told Undark, an online science magazine that first reported Lindenberger’s story, that her son’s decision was “like him spitting on me, saying ‘You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.”

According to Lindenberger’s Reddit post, his father was less resistant to the idea since Ethan was of legal age.

Ohio is one of 17 states that allow parents to opt out of vaccines for philosophical or moral reasons. Lindenberger has four younger siblings, including a 2-year-old sister who he says will probably not be vaccinated.

“It breaks my heart that she could get measles and she’d be done,” Lindenberger told The Post.

The Senate hearing comes as 68 people have contracted measles in the Pacific Northwest, the Associated Press reported. Oregon and Washington state allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for personal or philosophical reasons, and the region is home to a particularly vocal concentration of parents who choose not to get their children vaccinated. Washington state is hoping to pass a bill to narrow the exemptions for vaccines but is facing opposition from “anti-vaxxers,” who believe a debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause health conditions such as autism.

The CDC says measles outbreaks can be linked to an increase in the number of people who travel abroad and bring the disease back to the United States and to communities with pockets of unvaccinated individuals. According to the CDC, there were 17 outbreaks nationwide last year, primarily concentrated in three states. The outbreaks were associated with some communities of Orthodox Jews who chose not to vaccinate and contracted the disease when travelers returned from Israel, which was experiencing an outbreak.

In 2017, an outbreak that affected 75 people in a Somali-American community in Minnesota was attributed to low vaccination coverage.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Kayla Epstein

{Matzav.com}

18 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t we all wish that our 18 year old children use their unbelievable deep knowledge to disregard everything we teach them?
    Why is Matzav celebrating this yo-yo?

    • Just because some people are parents, doesn’t mean they are intelligent. You don’t have to pass minimum certification to be a parent.

  2. To Yottle and Old timer:

    You are not mechuyav to listen to your parents when they go against hallachic rulings, medical opinion, and pikuach nefesh.

    • Exactly what this idiot did. He went against halachic rulings, medical opinion and pikuach nefesh. See article above.

  3. Um. He is legally an adult and has every right to vaccinate himself if he so desires.
    Is it also a lack of respect for one’s parents to turn down a shidduch? Would it also be a lack of respect to have a bris if an 18 year old’s progressive Jewish parents thought it was unnecessary or cruel to give him one as an infant?

  4. #1 and #2: You must be anti-vaxxers if that’s your takeaway from this article.

    This young man is educating himself and doing what he feels is best for his health. Yiddishe kinder are absolutely allowed to do that.

  5. Hello everybody! Measles & all the other sicknesses we vaccinate against are just that sicknesses, not automatic death sentences! Don’t forget that!! Not e v e r y one who gets vaccinated gets something else, and not everyone who doesn’t vaccinate gets sick, and not everyone who gets sick, suffers irreparable damage. As a matter of accuracy, most people who get vaccinated d o n ‘t get something else serious – at least not that we can prove, not everyone unvaccinated will get sick, and most of those who get sick will recover with nothing more than life-long immunity and unpleasant memories. That’s what makes this such a tricky issue. You don’t know which option is the lesser of the evils…

    • Where did you pick your “facts” up from?
      e.g. 1) you write “most people who get vaccinated d o n ‘t get something else serious” Are you kidding? Is autism not serious enough? Are other neurological disorders not serious enough?
      2) you write “You don’t know which option is the lesser of the evils…” common sense says if getting measles is not dangerous for children vs. vaccination that can cause lethal injuries, wouldn’t a sane parents prefer the childhood disease of measles?

  6. “The outbreaks were associated with some communities of Orthodox Jews who chose not to vaccinate and contracted the disease when travelers returned from Israel, which was experiencing an outbreak.”

    Isn’t it nice when Orthodox Jews get coverage in the Washington Post. Thanks Y’all!!

  7. He probably contracted the measles as a young child and is immune for life. So this vaccination is a fraud because it won’t give him more immunization that he already got.

    • As he is 19 years old in 2019, that means his childhood would be near 2004, which had a record low number of only 34 reported cases in the entire country. It is really hard to infer from such data that this person “probably contracted the measles as a young child”.

      • There is “Inferring” and there is making up a wildly implausible story in its entirety.

        For example, I’m inferring that the two or so inches of snow on the ground after 6 to 8 inches were predicted is because weather forecasting isn’t precise.
        A conspiracy theorist (as anti-vaxxers are) might infer that the government, the U.N, the weather bureau, forecasters, etc. deliberately lied in their forecast as part of a mind-control experiment or to see how manipulable “The Sheeple” are.

  8. More power to you, kid! I will say that your parents clearly did something right, raising a son with enough common sense to disregard their recklessness and take care of his own well being.

  9. movie stars, teenagers, all “experts” called upon to testify before Congress. Real experts should testify . not teenagers. What is he testifying about? That he knows that Vaccines are healthful? That at age 18 he is an adult and can make his own medical decisions? What chiddushim does Congress expect from him?

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