Teen Who Defied Anti-Vaxx Mom To Testify Before Congress About Vaccine Misinformation

Ethan Lindenberger, 18, will discuss his decision to get vaccinated despite his mom's beliefs in front of the Senate health committee.

An Ohio teenager who made headlines last month for defying his mother’s anti-vaccine beliefs will testify about his experience before a congressional committee on Tuesday.

Ethan Lindenberger, 18, tweeted that he’s looking forward to discussing the spread of vaccine misinformation at the Senate health committee’s coming hearing on preventable disease outbreaks.

“I grew up in an anti-vaxx household,” Lindenberger said in a YouTube video about the hearing. “My mom didn’t believe that vaccines were beneficial to the health and safety of society.”

His mother, Jill Wheeler, had her two oldest children vaccinated, but refused to do the same for her five youngest children, including Ethan, when she realized she wasn’t required to do so by law.

But after reading scientific papers about the benefits of immunizations, Lindeberger decided it was in his best interest to get vaccinated. He solicited advice on how to do so without his parents’ permission in a Reddit post in mid-November, which has since gone viral.

“My parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme,” he wrote at the time. “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.”

Just over a month later, Lindenberger received vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza and HPV at an Ohio Department of Heath office, The Washington Post reported.

The committee hearing Tuesday follows measles outbreaks in New York and Washington state. The outbreaks originated with unvaccinated people traveling to countries, like Israel and Ukraine, where measles outbreaks are occurring, and returning to the U.S. infected.

The disease, which can pose serious and sometimes fatal health risks to young children, is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through pockets of unvaccinated people.

The number of anti-vaxxers has grown in recent years, largely because of the spread of misinformation about vaccines, including the myth that such injections cause autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports no link between vaccines and autism.

Lindenberger will be joined Tuesday by several other committee witnesses, including Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman and Immune Deficiency Foundation President and CEO John Boyle.

Watch a live stream of the hearing Tuesday at 10 a.m. on the Senate health committee’s website.