Teen who got vaccinated against mom's wishes speaks to Congress

Alicia Farmer
March 6, 2019

Ethan Lindenberger, a high school senior, testified Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, underscoring the importance of "credible" information.

Cassidy, who is a physician and the committee chair, called out Paul by name when it was his turn to speak.

"I grew up in an (anti-vaccination) household".

"My mother is an anti-vax advocate that believes vaccines cause autism, brain damage and do not benefit the health and safety of society, despite the fact such opinions have been debunked numerous times by the scientific community", Lindenberger testified.

He said his mother was victim of "deeply rooted misinformation" online.

He said as he approached high school, he began to think critically for himself and presented information, including statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that challenged his mother's anti-vaccination ideas.

A recent Washington state measles outbreak, one of six ongoing outbreaks in the United States, has afflicted 71 people, the Department of Health reports.

"He's excited; he's very excited", said Lindenberger's father Joe, who took his son to the airport Monday.

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

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Lindenberger told NPR News about his mother's reaction to information from the CDC. Lindenberger places the blame on social media companies and conspiracy sites that profit off of parents' desires to best look after their children by spreading lies that put them in danger.

"You may or may not know I am a physician", Cassidy said. He gained national attention last month when he turned to Reddit to figure out how to catch up on his vaccinations. He and his mother did about a dozen interviews with various media outlets, including FOX, The Washington Post, CNN, reporters from Berlin and Australia, "Good Morning America" and coverage was in USA Today. "Now that I'm 18, where do I go to get vaccinated?".

Ethan Lindenberger, 18, spoke out against the anti-vax movement.

"I am more of a "yes" than I am a "no" now", said Lindenberger, who doesn't favor vaccinating babies and prefers that people educate themselves about vaccines.

"I'd love to be a guest at your Thanksgiving dinner at your house", quipped Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican.

In the US, more than 90 percent of the population nationally is properly vaccinated but there are pockets of the country, including in Wiesman's hard-hit state, where fewer children get immunized on time or at all.

"He's more neutral because he's not educated", the father added. "I have seen people who have not been vaccinated who have required liver transplantation because they were not, and who have ended up with bad diseases for no other reason than they did not understand vaccination was important".

"People should respect that", he said. He also told the Reflector he decided once he did a lot of research and discussed the matter with his doctor and many other people.

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