For the life of me, I cannot understand the anti-vaccination movement, which seems to be a potentially serious health threat that conceivably could result in a return of deadly diseases that have already been eradicated.
The latest case in point involves an 18-year-old boy who went against his parents wishes and got his own battery of vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza and HPV, according to The Washington Post.
Now, Ethan Lindenberger, of Norwalk, OH, is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at a hearing examining outbreaks of preventable diseases. He is to appear with experts such as John Wiesman, Washington state’s secretary of health, and Saad B. Omer, a professor at Emory University in Georgia.
Lindenberger’s action to get vaccinated against his parents' wishes has gained national attention as measles outbreaks have affected more than 100 people in the United States this year and spurred increasing scrutiny of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated.
In his video above, Lindenberger says he lived for years without being vaccinated because of his mother’s belief in vaccine conspiracies. So he did his own homework, consulting scientific research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then, he posted on Reddit asking for advice about how to get vaccinated.
“I looked into it; it was clear there was way more evidence in defense of vaccines,” the teenager told The Post in February.
That ticked off his mother, Jill Wheeler, who said that her son’s decision was “like him spitting on me, saying ‘You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything."
According to Lindenberger’s Reddit post, his father was less resistant to his son getting vaccinated on his own since he was of legal age. But his mom probably was correct. Most likely she doesn't "know anything" when it comes to the pros and cons of vaccinations, so it was up to Ethan to be the adult in the family and act on his own.
Lindenberger has four younger siblings, including a 2-year-old sister who he says will probably not be vaccinated.
“It breaks my heart that she could get measles and she’d be done,” Lindenberger told The Post.
Ohio is one of 17 states that allow parents to withhold their children from vaccinations for moral or religious reasons. More than 70 people have contracted measles in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon and Washington state allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for personal or philosophical reasons, and the region is home to a particularly vocal concentration of parents who oppose vaccinations for their kids.
Washington state is hoping to pass a bill to narrow the exemptions for vaccines, but is facing opposition from “anti-vaxxers,” who support a debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause health conditions such as autism, The Post reported.
Refusing vaccines began in the early 1800s when the smallpox vaccine started being used in large numbers. The idea of injecting someone with a part of a cowpox blister to protect them from smallpox prompted a lot of criticism based on sanitary, religious, and political objections. Some clergy believed that the vaccine went against their religion.
In the 1970s, the DTP vaccine received a wave of opposition when it was linked to neurological disorders, but studies have found that the risks are very low.
Some "anti-vaxers" contend the risks outweigh the benefits. Parents cite many medical risks, including autism, as potential consequences of being vaccinated, and many contend there is no need for vaccinations since the diseases have been eradicated. However, health experts warn that without vaccinations, those diseases will return.
Many people also think the pharmaceutical companies can’t be trusted and that they only want to sell their products, regardless of the impact on the people who use them.
These people need to do what young Ethan Lindenberger did. Do the research. Listen to the experts. Don't just make life or death decisions for your kids -- and other people as well -- based on rumors or misinformation spread on social media.
States need to protect children if parents are too stupid to do so. Don't let kids go to school unless they get their shots. It's as simple as that.