An American teenager whose mum is opposed to vaccination has celebrated his 18thbirthday by getting vaccinated against a whole load of diseases.
Ethan Lindenberger, from Ohio, was never vaccinated because of his mum’s belief, even though his older brothers and sister all had their jabs.
Jill Wheeler – Ethan’s mum – never allowed for Ethan to be inoculated against illnesses like hepatitis, measles, rubella, and mumps. So, now that he’s old enough to make his own decision, he went on down to the doctors to get himself jabbed.
It’s not what we’d usually associate with 18th birthday shots, but whatever.
Explaining his story to NPR‘s Weekend Edition, Ethan said his mum doesn’t believe in vaccinations because she has seen information on the internet that links them to autism and brain damage.
Oh, and quite a few people believe the government is trying to control people’s minds. That’s totally above board.
Ethan was moved to get himself protected after a public health emergency was declared in Washington State following a measles outbreak.
Washington State recently had a large measles outbreak. Credit: PA
A load of kids – including Ethan – went to Reddit to ask how they could get themselves vaccinated. Ethan’s post said: “My parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. It’s stupid and I’ve had countless arguments over the topic. But, because of their beliefs I’ve never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I’m still alive.
“But, I’m a senior in high school now with a car, a license, and money of my own. I’d assume that I can get them on my own, but I’ve just never had a conversation with anyone about the subject. I’m also afraid I’d go somewhere that up charges vaccines way more than somewhere just down the street. Any advice would be awesome.
“I’m going to get vaccinated but it’s more of a matter of where do I go to get vaccines.”
An MMR vaccine. Credit: PA
Whilst there are a few different rules across the USA about when you can have a medical procedure – including injections – without parental consent, once Ethan turned 18, he could legally get vaccinated, even against his mother’s wishes. So he did.
He told NPR: “My mom had always known I disagreed with her and figured that was going to pass, but it didn’t. When I started looking into it myself, it became very apparent that there was a lot more evidence in defence of vaccinations, in their favour.
“Her response was simply ‘that’s what they want you to think’. I was just blown away that you know, the largest health organisation in the entire world would be written off with a kind of conspiracy theory-like statement like that.”
Anti-vaccination protestors in the USA. Credit: PA
He continued: “She looked at it as me getting vaccines as a gesture of rebellion and not for my own sake and the sake of people around me.”
Ethan is booked in to have more shots later in the month. He says he doesn’t question his mother’s love, but he does think that her judgement is wrong in this case.