- Ethan Lindenberger made headlines after he posted online in November 2018 about pursuing the vaccinations that his anti-vaxxer parents never got him.
- The 18-year-old from Ohio announced last week that he would be testifying before Congress about the importance of vaccines in combating preventable diseases.
- Lindenberger’s testimony comes amid a major outbreak of measles across the country, the vaccine for which is 95% effective if administered to children on schedule.
Ethan Lindenberger made headlines after he took his decision to get vaccinated public, defying his anti-vaxxer parents who had chosen to opt him out of the early-childhood shots because of their beliefs about the potential effets of vaccines.
The 18-year-old from Ohio posted on Reddit in November 2018 seeking advice for pursuing a full schedule of vaccines for diseases, writing “God knows how I’m still alive.” In January, Lindenberger posted an update that he had gotten the vaccines.
In a YouTube video posted Saturday, Lindenberger announced that he had been invited to attend a hearing by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions called “Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?“
According to the session’s page, the teen will be speaking alongside experts in public health and immune deficiencies. Lindenberger said in his announcement video that he looks forward to addressing the extensive scientific support for vaccines, and countering misinformation around them, that prevent diseases including the flu, hepatitis A, and HPV.
I’m happy to share that I’ll be testifying at a hearing for the committee of health, education labor, and pensions about the importance of vaccinations! Check out the video here!https://t.co/sPM12poJVi
— Ethan Joseph Lindenberger (@j_lindenberger) March 3, 2019
Though every state has vaccine guidelines for children attending school, 17 states allow parents to opt their children out for “personal, moral, or other beliefs.“
The teen’s journey to vaccination reportedly put him in conflict with his mother Jill Wheeler, who he told NPR believed claims common among anti-vaxxers, including that vaccines are a government scheme that can cause autism.
Wheeler told science publication Undark that her son’s decision to pursue vaccinations based on information from official sources like the CDC was a “slap in the face.“
“It was like him spitting on me,” she said, “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.'”
Lindenberger’s testimony comes amid a major outbreak of the measles across the country, with more than 100 people recently affected by the disease.
The measles vaccination program, as detailed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends the first dose for children at age 12-15 months, which is 93% effective.
Sixty-eight people have been infected in the Pacific Northwest, which has become a hotbed for ongoing outbreaks, many of which are among children under age 10 who were not vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.
The Senate’s session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at 10 AM and can be streamed here.
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