A teenager finally got his first ever vaccinations after his parents told him they caused autism and brain damage – as outbreak of measles sweep across the country.
Ethan Lindenberger, 18, Norwalk, Ohio, slammed his mother for denying him shots for diseases such as mumps and hepatitis because she had read debunked online theories.
The teenager decided to get vaccinated on his own after turning 18 when he was unable to convince his parents that vaccinations do not cause autism.
But his mother, Jill Wheeler, described the move as insulting and a ‘slap in the face’, according to Undark.
Ethan Lindenberger, Norwalk, Ohio, 18, was denied shots for diseases such as rubella, mumps and hepatitis growing up because of his mother had read debunked online theories
Ethan’s mother, Jill Wheeler, described the move as 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”.’
It comes as an outbreak of measles were confirmed in ten states and a public health emergency was declared in an anti-vaccination ‘hot spot’ in Portland, Oregon, last month.
Growing up, Ethan said his parents would tell him about the negative effects of getting vaccinated – including that they could cause brain damage and autism.
Ms Wheeler said: ‘I did not immunize him because I felt it was the best way to protect him and keep him safe.’
But it wasn’t until speaking with friends that he realized he was the only one out of his peer group to not have had the life-saving vaccinations.
Growing up, Ethan (left) said his parents would tell him about the negative effects of getting vaccinated – including that they could cause brain damage and autism
The teen decided to do some research and presented new information to his mother, Jill wheeler, to try and change her mind, including a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that debunked the autism myth.
Ethan told NPR: ‘Her response was simply ‘that’s what they want you to think’.
‘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.’
Ethan says that his father was less harsh about his decision despite having the same beliefs as his mother. He told him that now he was 18 he ‘could do what he wanted’.
Last year, Ethan asked for advice on how to get vaccinated on Reddit. He wrote: ‘God knows how I’m still alive’.
The post got more than 1,000 responses including from other unvaccinated teenagers trying to work out how to get shots without their parents consent.
Since Ethan is now legally an adult his parents cannot stop him from getting vaccinations.
However there are no federal laws regulating the issue for minors who wish to get shots and it varies between different states.
States often allow parents to exempt their children from vaccinations due to religious, and sometimes even personal or philosophical reasons.
Non-medical exemptions form vaccinations are seeing an increase in states such as Oregon, Idaho, and North Dakota, putting those areas at risk of a disease outbursts.
IS ANDREW WAKEFIELD’S DISCREDITED AUTISM RESEARCH TO BLAME FOR LOW MEASLES VACCINATION RATES?
Andrew Wakefield’s discredited autism research has long been blamed for a drop in measles vaccination rates
More and more people are choosing not to vaccinate their children and this is due to a group of fringe campaigners against immunization – known as ‘anti-vaxxers’
In 1995, gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet showing children who had been vaccinated against MMR were more likely to have bowel disease and autism.
He speculated that being injected with a ‘dead’ form of the measles virus via vaccination causes disruption to intestinal tissue, leading to both of the disorders.
After a 1998 paper further confirmed this finding, Wakefield said: ‘The risk of this particular syndrome [what Wakefield termed ‘autistic enterocolitis’] developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.’
At the time, Wakefield had a patent for single measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, and was therefore accused of having a conflict of interest.
Nonetheless, MMR vaccination rates in the US and the UK plummeted, until, in 2004 the then-editor of The Lancet Dr Richard Horton described Wakefield’s research as ‘fundamentally flawed’, adding he was paid by attorneys seeking lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.
The Lancet formally retracted Wakefield’s research paper in 2010.
Three months later, the General Medical Council banned Wakefield from practicing medicine in Britain, stating his research had shown a ‘callous disregard’ for children’s health.
On January 6 2011, The British Medical Journal published a report showing that of the 12 children included in Wakefield’s 1995 study, at most two had autistic symptoms post vaccination, rather than the eight he claimed.
At least two of the children also had developmental delays before they were vaccinated, yet Wakefield’s paper claimed they were all ‘previously normal’.
Further findings revealed none of the children had autism, non-specific colitis or symptoms within days of receiving the MMR vaccine, yet the study claimed six of the participants suffered all three.