A teenager with an anti-vax mum has celebrated his 18th birthday by getting vaccinated for just about everything.
18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger, from Ohio, had never received vaccines for diseases including hepatitis, measles, mumps and rubella.
Although Ethan’s older siblings are vaccinated, his mother, Jill Wheeler, chose not to vaccinate the teenager after finding out she could opt-out of it.
Speaking to NPR‘s Scott Simon on Weekend Edition, Ethan explained his mother had been influenced by online misinformation, including theories vaccines are linked to autism and brain damage.
While the anti-vaccination movement has always caused debate, more questions have been raised since a measles outbreak sparked a public health emergency in the state of Washington.
Numerous teenagers took to Reddit soon after to ask for help on how to get vaccinated, including Ethan.
In his post, Ethan asked if he could get vaccinated at the age of 18 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.
Ethan’s post received more than 1,200 responses from both people giving advice and other unvaccinated teengers asking similar questions.
Now legally an adult, Ethan’s mother couldn’t stop him from getting vaccinated, so he booked an appointment.
Recently receiving his first round of shots for diseases including HPV and influenza, Ethan has more booked in for later this month.
He told NPR while it did upset his mother, this is something he knew he had to do:
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 defense 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.
She looked at it as me getting vaccines for a gesture of rebellion and not for my own sake and for the sake of people around me.
Laws regarding a minor’s ability to get vaccinated vary from state to state. In most cases, you have to be 18 years old to get a medical procedure without parental consent.