Teen with anti-vax mom celebrates his 18th birthday by getting vaccinated 'for everything'
Ethan Lindenberger spent his childhood believing that his classmates didn't get vaccinated. He soon found out that, not only had most of them had their recommended vaccinations already, but that his older siblings had too. The Ohio teen was never vaccinated because of his mother's beliefs about the impact of vaccinations, and so was never inoculated against the likes of hepatitis, measles, rubella, and mumps.
His mother held him back after reading information on the internet that claimed vaccinations could lead to autism and brain damage, and while he didn't agree with her, he's had to follow suit. Now, however, he's hit 18 and become an adult, meaning he can get them done independently.
So, Ethan celebrated his 18th birthday by getting vaccinated against a bunch of different illnesses.
There are plenty of children in a similar situation to Ethan, many of which took to Reddit to find out how they can get themselves vaccinated. Ethan posted about his situation in November, writing:
"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."
This post received over 1,000 responses, and set Ethan on his course to having it done on his own. He went to get his first round of shots, for diseases such as hepatitis A and B, influenza and HPV.
Speaking to NPR's Weekend Edition, he said:
"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."
Once he told his mother that he was going to get the jabs done, she wasn't too happy with him. In fact, according to an interview with the science magazine Undark, she called it "a slap in the face".
"My mom had always known I disagreed with her and figured that was going to pass, but it didn't," Ethan 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."
According to NPR, Ethan's mother is still attempting to convince him to change his mind and not continue with the vaccinations, but he isn't budging. While he doesn't question her good intentions, he does doubt her judgement - and has more shots scheduled for later in the month.