Sometimes a little teenage rebellion can be a good thing. Take eighteen-year-old Ethan Lindenberger for example. Though his mother is staunchly anti-vaccines, believing the misinformation and debunked theories that vaccines are linked to autism, Ethan wasn’t so sure.
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While he grew up believing his mother’s false claims, thinking it was normal not to be vaccinated, he began doing his own research to fact-check his mom.
Two months ago, he posted on Reddit, as teenagers today do, to ask for himself what he could do to get vaccinated. His post became wildly popular.
He stated in an interview with NPR,
“When I started looking into it myself, it became very apparent that there was a lot more evidence in defense of vaccinations, in their favor.”
He initially tried to educate his mother with real science, but to no avail. “Her response was simply ‘that’s what they want you to think,’ ” he said.
“I was just blown away that you know, the largest health organization in the entire world would be written off with a kind of conspiracy theory-like statement like that.”
He wrote on Reddit, “God knows how I’m still alive.”
The answer to that is of course because of herd immunity.
He asked around his school, and his peers were all vaccinated. Their vaccinations had protected him, but with vaccination rates falling, protection from herd immunity is weakening, putting un-vaccinated people like Ethan at risk.
He decided to take matters into his own hands and protect his health by getting vaccinated.
He has so far received his first round of vaccines, with another set booked for next month.
Of his decision to get vaccinated, Ethan said of his mom,
“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.”
He has tried to show her evidence-based science about vaccines, but she isn’t interested.
Ethan is fortunate to be a legal adult and able to make medical decisions for himself.
But what about the countless children under eighteen who are concerned about the measles outbreaks, and worried about being at risk for other preventable diseases?
The age at which a minor can consent to vaccines without parental permission varies by state. Perhaps with the spread of once nearly eradicated diseases, it might be time to look at allowing minors who have a good grasp of the science and safety of vaccines to protect their own health and the health of those around them by consenting to their own vaccinations.
I have said it before, and I will say it again – there is something special about this generation of young people.
They are a cohort of activists, constantly fighting for what is good and right. It does not surprise me to learn that so many are following the science and getting vaccinated, despite what erroneous thinking they were told as children.
Ethan is not the only teenager taking to social media about their desire to be vaccinated. There are others out there that also want the vaccines despite being warned against them as children.
Hopefully, as more kids like Ethan come of age, we can finally get vaccination rates back up to an effective level and stop these outbreaks once and for all.