Transcript for Cancer survivor fears anti-vax parents are putting sick kids at risk
High school senior Ethan lindenburger, vaccinated against his mother's wishes. It is a topic of discussion across the country. A teenager's decision to go against his anti-vax mother. My decision was not only the best decision for myself but to protect myself and other people. 18-year-old Ethan's choice has captured the nation's attention as a measles outbreak in Washington state has prompted renewed calls for mandatory vaccinations. They are stronger and more emboldened than they ever have been. False information, myth and misconception always exists in medicine, and we all fear what we don't know and we don't understand. But the reality is, in medical and science, we have to make clinical decision and policy decisions. Reporter: Despite studies that show vaccinations are safe, she chooses not to vaccinate her children out of fear. I am against vaccinations. And I have seen people I have met or people that are close to me that have had bad reactions to the vaccines. It scared me. Reporter: But Ethan began questioning that decision. I had grown-up hearing I had grown-up not be being vaccinated because it's dangerous. Once started looking into what the scientific community at large has supported, that's when I started to see that my situation was an a little more unique. Reporter: The teen turned to Reddit to see whether his peers could provide insight, writing my parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. I've had countless arguments, god knows how I'm still alive. I thought I'd get good answers from people who had the similar feelings I had. It blew up. I've had people contact me that are in a similar situation where they want to pursue vaccinations and their parent doesn't think it's right. It does seem to be a growing trend, just over the last few years. More and more of these teens are starting to come of age. Only a few days after the Reddit post I went through that and pursued vaccinations at the public health department. My first reaction was fear that he might have a bad reaction to it. Reporter: Despite his mother's reservations, she respected her son's choice. I think it's great he has taken it upon himself to research and decide what is best for him. Reporter: Some believe vaccines can have serious risks, such as causing autism, a myth with roots in a debunked 1998 study. The autism experts retracted it. Really everyone in science and medicine has accepted that weigh were taken down an incorrect path. Reporter: Popularized by the Lakes of Jenny Mccarthy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. And Robert de Niro, it's become more mainstream and it's having an impact. What we've seen recently is a resurgence of infectious diseases that were effectively eradicated. Reporter: 7.9% of children had gotten exempts in Clark county. Five of them we're unable to verify immunization status. It's basically a vaccine-preventible disease. Reporter: Prior to the outbreak, Washington had been among the more permissive states allowing parents to opt out of vaccines. Lawmakers are now considering bills that would prohibit non-medical exemptions from vaccines, prompting hundreds in opposition to the bill. When you take a way a person's freedom in medical choice, mandating vaccines for education, that is coercion. Reporter: Proponents of mandatory vaccinations point to California after a measles outbreak in Disney land sickened 147 people in 2015. I'm going to make you peanut butter and jelly. Reporter: This family was behind the push for new legislation. When their son was 2 1/2, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Three and a half years of treatments, 157 nights in the hospital overall, 50 surgeries. Reporter: His immune system unable to handle vaccines. If your system is not capable of it, it can be harmful. Reporter: They were shocked to learn nearly 7% of the children at their elementary school were not vaccinated due to personal exemption. That was the risk we faced every day, that one of these diseases would get our son sick and he might die. Reporter: Going to school with put their son's life at risk. I'm talking about the people with personal belief exemptions.ey believe they are bad, so they chose or choose not to vaccinate their children. It's just not realistic for a parent to say I'm not going to vaccinate my child. Not only is their child at risk, but other people around that child are at risk, and that becomes, then, a public health issue. We went up to Sacramento. And lobbied for a bill, and it was getting kids vaccinated. Reporter: They went on a mission to keep others from experiencing the same fear. Thank you for making sure that kids like me don't, don't get sick at school. Reporter: It was a success. The new law passed with bipartisan support, eliminating exemptions due to personal beliefs. Ayes 36, nos 30. Sb 277 pass. I was excited and happy. Reporter: This week, Rhett celebrates five years of being cancer free and has a very personal message for parents. 'D say I think that you should get your kids vaccinated for not only your kid's sake but
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