Eighteen-year-old Ethan Lindenberger appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday to talk about how he decided to get vaccinated against the wishes of his mother, who is anti-vaccine.
Lindenberger is a senior at Norwalk High School in Norwalk, Ohio. He gained attention in November by asking about how to get vaccinated despite the opposition of his “kind of stupid parents” in a discussion on Reddit.
Anti-vaccine proponents espouse a widely discredited view that vaccines can cause autism or brain damage.
Lindenberger grew up without common vaccinations such as those for measles and chicken pox before finally getting immunizations starting in December. He described being pulled out of class each year and told he needed to get his shots, only to be opted out each time by his mother.
Most states allow parents to claim a religious exemption to vaccination requirements for their children to attend school. Seventeen states currently allow parents to opt out of vaccinations for personal or philosophical reasons.
But leaving children unvaccinated runs the risk of them contracting and spreading diseases such as measles, which can lead to death in extreme cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 206 cases of measles in 11 states in January and February of this year.
Lindenberger’s mother got most of her misinformation about vaccines on Facebook, he told the committee. Meanwhile, he got information about vaccines from the CDC, the World Health Organization and scientific journals, he said.
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SOURCE: NPR, James Doubek