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Defying Mom, teen testifies in support of vaccines

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 5, 2019 - Duration: 01:59s

Defying Mom, teen testifies in support of vaccines

Eighteen-year-old Ethan Lindenberger testified in front of the Senate Health Committee in support of standard immunization for kids, despite his own mother having never vaccinated him as a child.

Lisa Bernhard reports.

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Defying Mom, teen testifies in support of vaccines

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ETHAN LINDENBERGER, SAYING: 'My name is Ethan Lindenberger and I'm a senior at Norwalk High School…' Eighteen-year-old Ethan Lindenberger is among those who testified in front of the Senate Health Committee Wednesday to prevent what he called 'illegitimate sources' of information from spreading the idea that standard vaccines are harmful for kids.

The catch here - he is defying his own mother.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ETHAN'S MOTHER, JILL WHEELER, SAYING: 'I think it was straight-up fear of him getting these immunizations and having a bad reaction.'

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ETHAN LINDENBERGER, SAYING: 'My mother is an anti-vax advocate who 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.'

As a result, Lindenberg said he went his whole life without being vaccinated against measles, chicken pox or polio.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ETHAN LINDENBERGER, SAYING: 'However in December 2018, I began catching up on my missed immunizations, despite my mother's disapproval.

// It's important to understand that as I approached high school and began to critically think for myself, I saw that the information in defense of vaccines outweighed the concerns heavily.'

A position that others on the panel agreed with - including Washington state's secretary of health and pediatric specialists from Emory University and the University of Tennessee.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. JONATHAN MCCULLERS, SAYING: 'There is absolutely no evidence at this time that vaccines cause autism.'

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

LAMAR ALEXANDER, SAYING: 'Dr. Omer do you agree with that?'

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. SAAD OMER, SAYING: 'Absolutely.'

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SEN.

LAMAR ALEXANDER, SAYING: 'Dr. Weisman do you agree with that?'

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. JOHN WIESMAN, SAYING: 'I do.'

The Senate hearing, titled, 'Vaccines Save Lives', comes amid measles outbreaks in at least four states, including New York.

The disease had been considered eradicated since 2000.

Parents can legally decline to vaccinate their kids in 17 states, including Ohio, where Lindenberger is from.

But that could change in a few of those states if lawmakers get their way, with Minnesota and New Jersey among those that have introduced legislation to make vaccination mandatory.

As for Lindenberger, he and his mom, in an interview last month, appeared willing to agree to disagree, with Ethan adding, 'I question her judgement but not her care.'

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