Ethan Lindenberger, 18, told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions yesterday about how he sought to vaccinate himself after his mother - reportedly misinformed by social media - didn't get him immunized.
"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", Lindenberger told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
An Ohio teenager who defied his anti-vaccine mother and received shots against several risky diseases was the star witness at a Senate hearing Tuesday.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Lindenberger said Facebook, or websites that were linked to through Facebook, is really the only source his mother ever relied on for her anti-vaccine information.
Lindenberger's 16-year-old brother is also considering getting vaccinated but will have to wait until he's 18 if his parents don't give him permission due to state laws. Ethan Lindenberger, appearing with a panel of doctors, told the committee on March 5 that it's important "to inform people about how to find good information", and to make them realize just how unsafe diseases like measles truly are. "Using the love, affection, and care of a parent for their children to push an agenda and create false distress is shameful".
There are 200 known cases in 11 states so far this year with the Pacific Northwest hardest hit.
Lindenberger's mother, Jill Wheeler, told Good Morning America that her son's decision sparked a lot of discussion.
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"I grew up in an [anti-vaccination] household". "Now, if you're such a believer in liberty that you do not wish to be vaccinated then there should be a outcome and that is you can not infect other people".
Yet not everyone agreed fully with some of the ideas put forth in the hearing, such as mandatory vaccine requirements. I'm also afraid I'd go somewhere that up-charges vaccines way more than somewhere just down the street. "But I still do not favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security".
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was quickly rebuked by his colleagues for the stance. Wheeler said she feared her children having a bad reaction if they were vaccinated, and questioned why a teen was given a national platform to discuss the topic. His father, though, said that since he's 18 he's fine with it. The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is 93 percent or more effective at preventing measles, according to the CDC. In Annals of Internal Medicine on Tuesday, researchers compared vaccinated and unvaccinated tots and concluded: "Our study does not support that MMR vaccination increases the risk for autism, triggers autism in susceptible children or is associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination".
"I want to speak directly to the parents who have children with serious health issues and who have been attending our hearings in Washington state and are watching this hearing today", health secretary Wiesman said at the hearing. While the science is clear that vaccines do not cause autism, we do need to better understand its causes.
The spread of measles is exacerbated by what the CDC describes as "U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people".
Nationally, the United States has high measles vaccination coverage. "The only way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated".