Teen explains why he defied his mom and got vaccinated against measles

Says it’s crucial to counter fraudulent claims on social media that scare parents

An Ohio teen defied his mother’s anti-vaccine beliefs and started getting his shots when he turned 18 — and told Congress on Tuesday that it’s crucial to counter fraudulent claims on social media that scare parents.

Ethan Lindenberger of Norwalk, Ohio, said his mother’s “love, affection and care is apparent,” but that she was steeped in online conspiracies that make him and his siblings vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases like the ongoing measles outbreaks.

READ MORE: Measles vaccine registry likely for B.C. schools this fall

“I grew up under my mother’s beliefs that vaccines are dangerous,” Lindenberger told a Senate health committee. He’d show her scientific studies but said she instead turned to illegitimate sources that “instil fear into the public.”

Last December, despite his mother’s disapproval and realizing that “my school viewed me as a health threat,” Lindenberger began catching up on his missed immunizations. He told lawmakers it’s important “to inform people about how to find good information” and to remind them how dangerous these diseases really are.

This year is shaping up to be a bad one for measles as already, the U.S. has counted more than 200 cases in 11 states — including about 70 in an outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.

Measles is one of the most contagious viruses, able to be spread through coughs and sneezes for four days before someone develops the characteristic rash. It’s dangerous: 1 in 20 patients get pneumonia, and 1 in 1,000 get brain swelling that can lead to seizures, deafness or intellectual disability. While deaths are rare in the U.S., measles killed 110,000 people globally in 2017 — and unvaccinated Americans travelling abroad, or foreign visitors here, can easily bring in the virus.

The vaccine is highly effective and very safe, John Wiesman, Washington state’s health secretary, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

More than 90 per cent of the population nationally is properly vaccinated but there are pockets of the country, including in his hard-hit state, where fewer children get immunized on time or at all. They in turn are a hazard to people who can’t get vaccinated — babies who are too young or people with weak immune systems.

Vaccination against a list of diseases is required to attend school, but 17 states, including Ohio, allow some type of non-medical exemption for “personal, moral or other beliefs,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Songbirds return to their roost in the West Shore

Tips, such as keeping roaming cats from ruffling any feathers, can attract more birds

EDITORIAL: Cancellation of drag races another hit to Port Alberni tourism

The first hit came a few months ago when city council shut down popular Alberni Pacific Railway

Removal of old Elk Falls parking lots underway

Already replaced by the new access to the suspension bridge

High-profile Port Alberni murders are the centre of new true crime book

Retired journalist Shayne Morrow pairs historic murders with the science that solved them

Canadiana complete when Murray McLauchlan’s in the house

Legendary singer/songwriter brings his folksy talents to the McPherson on June 13

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterey, Calif.

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read