Teen Testifies On Vaccine Choice

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Ethan Lindenberger, an OH teen who got vaccinated against his parents' wishes, spoke at a Senate hearing on Tuesday. Ethan Lindenberger, of Norwalk, appeared on Tuesday before the US Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor, and Pensions (left) and discussed the fights he had with his mother, Jill Wheeler (together, right) over this decision to catch up on his vaccines.

"My mother is an anti-vaxx advocate [who] believes that vaccines... do not benefit the health and safety of society, despite the fact such opinions have been debunked numerous times by the scientific community", Ethan told the Senate committee.

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

Last December, Lindenberger defied his mother and began catching up on his missed vaccinations. Once, he showed her an article from the Center for Disease Control regarding the importance of vaccination and his mother dismissed it as he was told that "that is what they want you to think".

There are now at least 206 confirmed measles cases reported across 11 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

"Many people don't resonate well with data and numbers - they resonate better through stories", he said. "I feel like if my mom didn't interact with that information, and she wasn't swayed by those arguments and stories, it could've potentially changed everything", he said.

Lindenberger created national headlines after he posted on Reddit several months ago that, "my parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme" and "god knows how I'm still alive".

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The renewed conversation on measles - which was eliminated in the United States in 2000 - comes amid a resurgence of the disease spurred by an increased number of people who travel outside the country and bring the disease back, according to the CDC. These include: Dr. John Wiseman, the Secretary of Health for the Washington State Department of Health; Saad Omer, Professor of Epidemiology & Pediatrics at Emory University and John Boyle, President and CEO of the Immune Deficiency Foundation.

Lindenberger wasn't vaccinated until he took himself to be immunised at 18.

Yet not everyone agreed fully with some of the ideas put forth in the hearing, such as mandatory vaccine requirements. "Can I get vaccinated at my age?" Noting that his son and ex-wife are much more passionate about the subject than he is and that Wheeler is "100 percent anti-vaccines", he told the Reflector he is "now more in line with Ethan than I am his mother".

"But I still do not favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security." he concluded. He said parents who question vaccines are not acting out of malice but actual concern for their children. As of January 2019, the National Conference of State Legislature reports that all 50 states require vaccinations for students to attend school, but there are exceptions for parents who wish to opt out.

"I'd love to be a guest at your Thanksgiving dinner at your house", quipped Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican.

Nationally, the United States has high measles vaccination coverage.

Measles is highly contagious and can live in a room for two hours after an infected person coughed or sneezed. He asked how to go about getting vaccinated on his own.

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