Teen finally gets first vaccine at 18 after blaming anti-vaxxer parents, who believe shots cause autism
18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger from Norwalk, Ohio, slammed his own mother for denying him the vaccines for diseases such as mumps and hepatitis
A teenage boy finally received his first vaccination after being prevented from getting them by his parents who had told him that they cause brain damage and autism.
As a massive outbreak of measles sweeps across the United States, 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger from Norwalk, Ohio, slammed his own mother for denying him the vaccines for diseases such as mumps and hepatitis just because she read some crazy theories online.
The teen made a decision to get himself vaccinated after turning 18 because he was unable to convince his parents that vaccines do not cause autism.
His mother, Jill Wheeler, said in an interview with Undark that the decision to get the vaccinations on his own was insulting and felt like a "slap in the face".
She said: "It was like him spitting on me, saying 'You don't know anything, I don't trust you with anything. You don't know what you're talking about. You did make a bad decision and I'm gonna go fix it'."
Ethan's decision comes at a time when an outbreak of measles has been confirmed in 10 of the 50 states, and a public health emergency declared in an anti-vaccination "hot spot" in Portland, Oregon, in January.
When he was growing up, Ethan said that his parents would constantly tell him about the negative effects of getting vaccinated and which included brain damage and autism.
Wheeler said: "I did not immunize him because I felt it was the best way to protect him and keep him safe."
It wasn't until he was speaking to his friends one day, however, that the teen realized he was the only one in his peer group who did not have any of the life-saving vaccinations. The teen did some research of his own and showed his mother the new information to try and get her to change her mind. His efforts also turned up a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that debunked the myth that vaccines caused autism.
Ethan then told NPR: "Her response was simply 'that's what they want you to think'. I was just blown away that you know, the largest health organization in the entire world would be written off with a kind of conspiracy theory-like statement like that."
The teen did say that his father was less dramatic about his decision even though he believed the same things as his mother. The man told Ethan that now that he was 18-years-old, he "could do what he wanted". Ethan took to Reddit in 2018 to ask other users for advice on how he could get vaccinated. He wrote: "My parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. It's stupid and I've had countless arguments over the topic."
He continued: "God knows how I'm still alive."
The post received more than 1,000 responses that included those from other teens who were trying to figure out how to get the shots without the consent of their parents.