Teen tells Congress why he defied his mother to get vaccinated

Teen tells Congress why he defied his mother to get vaccinated

Ethan Lindenberger, 18, spoke before Congress to tell lawmakers how important it is to spread information about the benefits of vaccination.

Ethan Lindenberger, a teenager from Norwalk, Ohio, traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak at a health, education, labor and pension committee hearing Tuesday on a panel alongside health experts including John Wiesman, Washington state's secretary of health.

Lindenberger's mother, Jill Wheeler, told the Undark that her son's actions were "like him spitting on me, saying, 'You don't know anything, I don't trust you with anything'".

"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".

Lindenberger's story took off both in the global press and on social media last month after he posted on Reddit, an online forum, asking for advice on what steps he should take to get vaccinated. He told lawmakers it's important "to inform people about how to find good information" and to remind them how unsafe these diseases really are.

This winter, a measles outbreak brought the vaccination debate to the forefront of national discourse.

A U.S. Senate committee invited him to share his story during a hearing that discussed what's driving outbreaks in parts of the country, mostly blaming it on those who don't get vaccinated.

"My mom was especially angry but my dad said because I'm 18 he doesn't care that much", he later wrote in an update.

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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.

"With my mother, it wasn't she didn't have the information, she was manipulated into believing it", high school senior Ethan Lindenberger said in the hearing. That's more than the number of cases combined in 2017. "Now that I'm 18, where do I go to get vaccinated?"

"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. He called for an increase to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's budget and increased funding for immunization programs that involve sharing immunization information with parents and maintaining electronic immunization systems.

Some members of the audience erupted into applause when Kentucky Sen.

The hearing also covered herd immunity, a tenet of immunology that states the rate of a preventable illness in a population will go down if the rate of vaccination goes up.

"But I still do not favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security." he concluded.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was quickly rebuked by his colleagues for the stance. He said parents who question vaccines are not acting out of malice but actual concern for their children.

"People can skim over that, but it's a huge problem", he said. 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 love babies. I want to protect them; I want to nurture them". "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 that you can not infect other people". He asked how to go about getting vaccinated on his own.

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