Teen who got vaccinated despite parents' wishes speaks before Congress

Posted March 09, 2019

On Tuesday morning, a Senate committee will hear testimony about vaccines and preventable disease outbreaks from pediatricians, Washington state's secretary of health and Ethan Lindenberger, the 18-year-old from OH who just opted to get vaccinated despite the views of his anti-vaxx parents. He said his mother's "love, affection and care is apparent", but online conspiracies were making him and his siblings at risk for fully preventable diseases like measles, which is experiencing a massive and unsafe resurgence due to the anti-vaxx community.

"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.

When he showed his mother the articles explaining, for example, that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine did not cause autism, he said she replied: "That's what they want you to think". The hearing included several witnesses, but the one that drew the most attention was Ethan Lindenberger, a teenager from OH who got vaccinated against his parents' wishes.

The hearing, titled "Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?" will be available for public viewing on March 5 at 10 a.m. via a live stream on the Senate committee's website here.

The teenager's testimony comes as the US has faced measles outbreaks in states - including Washington - that have been credited largely to skepticism surrounding vaccinations and unsubstantiated accusations of links between vaccines and autism, according to the website The Hill.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (yes, they actually call themselves the HELP Senate Committee) convened.

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"As we contemplate forcing parents to choose this or that vaccine, I think it's important to remember that force is not consistent with the American story, not is force consistent with liberty our forefathers sought when they came to America".

According to the latest federal government statistics, 206 individual cases of measles have been recorded in 11 states so far. In the past, Paul has questioned whether vaccines should be required, and he's parroted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, such as in 2015, when he said he'd "heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines". Specifically, he said, she turned to anti-vaccine groups on social media for evidence that supported her point of view.

While Paul's remarks generated some audience applause, Sen.

"Some years it's completely wrong", he said.

But Lindenberger said his mother wasn't acting out of malice.

"I'm not here to say 'don't vaccinate your kids.' If this hearing is for persuasion, I'm all for the persuasion". "But I still do not favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security".

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The Ohio student said that he went unvaccinated until the age of 18, when he was legally able to obtain his own vaccinations, CBS News reported. "I'd love to be a guest at Thanksgiving dinner at your house", joked Isakson.

The teenager added that he knew his mother loved him, but that her actions put him in harm's way.

Ethan Lindenberger said his decision wasn't about going against his parents' wishes, but doing what will keep him healthy and will keep other people from getting sick as well.

An overwhelming majority of parents vaccinate their children.

Seven people have caught measles in Canterbury.

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