The wave of parents refusing to vaccinate their children is currently showing some ugly consequences. A measles outbreak in the state of Washington in an anti-vaxxers hotspot has seen dozens of confirmed cases in the past month, all of which could have been prevented with the simple jab of a needle.
Many kids who were never vaccinated because they were born around the start of the anti-vaxxer movement are now teenagers, and some are desperately looking for a way around their parents to get the vaccinations they believe could save their lives. Unfortunately, in most states, they can’t get vaccinated under the age of 18 without parental consent.
Ethan Lindenberger, 18, from Norwalk, Ohio, is one such young man whose life has been affected by parents who believe vaccines are dangerous. According to New York Daily News, he took to a Reddit forum in November asking for advice on how he could get those medications.
Unfortunately in Ohio, parents are legally allowed to opt-out of getting their children vaccinated if they don’t want to, and it’s not possible for minors to get those shots without permission from a parent or guardian. Fortunately, Lindenberger had just turned 18.
“My parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. Because of their beliefs I’ve never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I’m still alive. My parents are kind of stupid and don’t believe in vaccines. Now that I’m 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?” he wrote on the forum.
One month later, he shared that he had done it, going against his parents’ wishes to protect himself.
Lindenberger was elated at the achievement, but his mother, Jill Wheeler, took a very different view of her son’s actions, calling it “insulting” and a “slap in the face.”
“It was like him spitting on me, 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.'”
Unfortunately, Wheeler has another six children who are, given her attitude to her eldest’s decision, all still unvaccinated.
According to Lindenberger, before making the decision that he wanted to finally get his vaccinations, he did plenty of research into the preventative medication to determine whether or not his mother’s mantra had been a lie. The 18-year-old explained that he was regularly told that getting vaccinated would result in autism and brain damage.
Once he realized the science proved they were life-saving and not causing any harm, Lindenberger tried to present this evidence to his mother to change her mind, but to no avail.
“Her response was simply ‘that’s what they want you to think,'” the frustrated teenager explained.
Lindenberger wasn’t the only teen on the Reddit forum asking for advice either.
“I, as well as my siblings, hold the ideology that vaccines are a public health issue, and a personal responsibility to the benefit of the population, not a right you can revoke from your children,” one teen wrote.
Others were concerned about whether they should be getting different shots as teens than those given to babies.
“This generation of unvaccinated children coming of age has looked at the science and want to protect themselves,” Allison Winnike, president and chief executive of the Immunization Partnership, said. “Now you’re seeing children coming of age, out from a cloud of misinformation.”