How a Teenager Defied His Parents to Get Vaccinated

"My parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme," he wrote. "It’s stupid."

Measles vaccination
Do you need a measles booster shot? (Flickr.)

One Ohio teen’s story of defying his anti-vaxxer parents went viral last year and now, he wants to use his newfound platform for good.

“Now that I’m 18, where do I go to get vaccinated?” Ethan Lindenberger wrote on a subcommunity on Reddit called “No Stupid Questions.”

Lindenberger was raised to believe that vaccines cause brain damage, autism and other developmental issues but, as he neared the end of his high school career, the young adult grew to learn and feel differently.

“As the title explains, my parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme,” he wrote last fall. “It’s stupid and I’ve had countless arguments over the topic. But, because of their beliefs I’ve never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I’m still alive.”

His post made headlines across the country and, as The Guardian noted, gave others in his same shoes hope that those raised to believe unfounded claims about vaccines could change their minds and make a different decision than their parents.

Lindenberger did his own research at school and came across peer-reviewed studies and articles published by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that helped him draw his own conclusion about vaccines — that they’re vital and he needed them. This was even after he confronted his parents, who stood their ground in the face of scientific fact.

That’s when he turned to Reddit.

“That’s when it clicked for me – this opinion that I’d disagreed with her [his mother] on for at least a year or two now can become action,” said Lindenberger. “I can actually do something about this.”

Since then, he’s been vaccinated against HPV, flu, hepatitis A and C, and tetanus, and he and his medical team have come up with a schedule for the rest.

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