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

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, vehicle crashes

Happened in early evening, injuries unknown

Court supports Maple Ridge role in tent city

Rejects Pivot application to allow people to return

City video updates Maple Ridge Leisure Centre re-do

Rusty support columns delaying project by a few months

Maple Ridge councillor back at work

Duncan away because of car accident

Seniors conquer the arctic

Pitt Meadows guide led 35-day trek

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes near Agassiz

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read