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HEALTH / Mar ‘2019

Teen who defies anti-vax mum “poster child for the pharmaceutical industry”

HEALTH / MAR ‘2019

Teen who defies anti-vax mum “poster child for the pharmaceutical industry”

The ultimate betrayal for anti-vax mum Jill Wheeler came when her 18-year-old son got vaccinated against her wishes.

Words Sophie Phoon

Ethan Lindenberger, who grew up in an anti-vaccine household, went against his mother’s wishes and was vaccinated when he turned 18. Now, he’s addressing the US Senate about the importance of immunisation.

The teen from Ohio was not vaccinated as a kid. Although his older siblings were, mum Jill Wheeler was against the idea for him after reading information online that claimed vaccines were linked to autism and brain damage.

“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?”

When he turned 18, he reached out to Reddit users to find out if he could get immunised independently of having his parents’ consent.

“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?”

A month later, he was vaccinated against influenza, HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Since then, he has also been immunised against diseases such as measles, chicken pox and polio.

“[anti-vax groups] instil fear into the public for their own gain selfishly… knowing their information is incorrect.”

Earlier this month, he addressed the US Senate about his concerns around the anti-vaccine movement.

He claims his mum didn’t get her ideas from credible sources, but mainly from anti-vax groups on social media and organisations that “instil fear into the public for their own gain selfishly… knowing their information is incorrect.”

He stressed that the organisations that push misinformation about vaccines are the ones at fault – parents like his are only trying to protect their families.

His mum, Jill, told the Associated Press that she was proud of her son, but “didn’t agree with anything he said.”

“For my mother, her love, care and affection as a parent was used to push an agenda to create a false distress.”

His mum, Jill, told the Associated Press that she was proud of her son, but “didn’t agree with anything he said.” She also didn’t understand why a teenager was getting a platform like this to discuss the issue. “They’ve made him the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry.”