An Ohio teen who rebelled against his parents by seeking vaccinations will testify before a Senate Committee Tuesday.
Ethan Lindenberger said that growing up he never received standard vaccines that protect against diseases like chickenpox, hepatitis, measles, mumps, polio, or rubella. But by the time he became a legal adult, he had educated himself on the topic and decided to seek inoculations on his own.
"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," Lindenberger wrote in a Reddit post. "God knows how I'm still alive."
Lindenberger’s story gained attention after he posted on Reddit, asking if and how he could finally receive his vaccines as an 18-year-old.
Tuesday’s hearing with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will focus on the factors behind outbreaks of preventable diseases, a topic that has been highlighted during an ongoing measles outbreak in Washington state. As of Sunday afternoon, 70 cases of measles had been confirmed in Washington’s Clark County this year, according to the state's Department of Health.
Of the 70 cases, 61 were individuals who had not been vaccinated against measles (and immunization information was unverified for another seven of the cases).
"Almost all states grant religious exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against immunizations," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 17 states allow philosophical exemptions, which can include moral, personal or other reasons.
"I’ve had people contact me that are in a similar situation, where they want to pursue vaccinations and their parent or authority figure doesn’t believe it’s right," Lindenberger told Good Morning America on Feb. 12.
Lindenberger’s mother, Jill Wheeler, told Good Morning America: "I think it’s great that he has taken it upon himself to research and find what he feels is best for him. It is not what I agree with. It is not how I feel."