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

Man charged after knife waved at 7-Eleven store clerk

Port Alberni’s Jared Dallen Stein charged after consecutive robberies

New scholarship at Pacific Coast University boosts disability retraining

BY MIKE YOUDS SPECIAL TO THE NEWS A new scholarship provides a… Continue reading

Applications open for bursary, scholarship funding at North Island College

Current and future North Island College students are eligible to apply

Cheetham Team comes in second at Alberni Valley bonspiel

The annual mixed bonspiel drew 37 teams from across the Island and Lower Mainland

Seedy Saturday draws many green thumbs in Port Alberni

Char’s Landing was the place to be last Saturday

VIDEO: Port Alberni welcomes Gathering Our Voices delegates

Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations welcomed guests during opening ceremonies

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Man charged after knife waved at 7-Eleven store clerk

Port Alberni’s Jared Dallen Stein charged after consecutive robberies

Indian Day School students eligible for $10K apiece

Islanders included in settlement package reached with Canada’s federal government

Most Read