Lindenberger’s Choice

Published: March 13, 2019

By Jim Lichtman
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It’s safe to say that, at one time or other, most teens rebel against their parents. For Ethan Lindenberger that rebellion took an unexpected turn.

When Lindenberger became a legal adult at 18, he chose to get the necessary vaccinations that his parents had avoided.

“I had grown up with my mom being very staunch and open about her position against vaccines,” Lindenberger said. “As I became a teenager and looked into it and decided that the evidence supported vaccines by and large, and that the evidence that they cause autism and brain damage and other misinformed statements weren’t true.”

With that, the Ohio teen went on Reddit to find out where he could get reliable vaccinations.

“…my parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme,” Lindenberger writes. “But, I’m a senior in high school now with a car, a license, and money of my own. I’d assume that I can get them on my own, but I’ve just never had a conversation with anyone about the subject. … Any advice would be awesome.”

A reader counseled Lindenberger to schedule an appointment with a doctor. “They can talk you through what vaccines you need. They can also run bloodwork to make sure your body will accept all of them. Pharmacies are good in a pinch, but some vaccines are multi-injection, and some may not be appropriate. A doctor will know all of that.”

Lindenberger found the right doctor and received the vaccinations recommended. Last week, he testified before Congress about his experience.

In a story reported by the Associated Press and appearing in The New York Times (Mar. 5), “ ‘I grew up under my mother’s beliefs that vaccines are dangerous,’ Lindenberger told a Senate health committee. He’d show her scientific studies but said she instead turned to illegitimate sources that ‘instill fear into the public.’

“Last December, despite his mother’s disapproval and realizing that ‘my school viewed me as a health threat,’ Lindenberger began catching up on his missed immunizations. He told lawmakers it’s important ‘to inform people about how to find good information’ and to remind them how dangerous these diseases really are.

Back up the tape because this is valuable.

Lindenberger told lawmakers that it is important “to inform people about how to find good information.”

That piece of advice not only applies to our health but a whole host of “good information” necessary to lead our lives.

“This year,” the AP report continues, “is shaping up to be a bad one for measles as already, the U.S. has counted more than 200 cases in 11 states — including about 70 in an outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.

“Measles is one of the most contagious viruses, able to be spread through coughs and sneezes for four days before someone develops the characteristic rash. It’s dangerous: 1 in 20 patients get pneumonia, and 1 in 1,000 get brain swelling that can lead to seizures, deafness or intellectual disability. While deaths are rare in the U.S., measles killed 110,000 people globally in 2017 — and unvaccinated Americans traveling abroad, or foreign visitors here, can easily bring in the virus.

“The vaccine is highly effective and very safe, John Wiesman, Washington state’s health secretary, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.”

“His journey to get vaccinated,” NBC affiliate KCRA-TV reports, “ ‘is for my safety and the safety of  others,’ he said. ‘My parents are very happy that I’m continuing to express that the importance of a vaccine is beyond just me and other people, and I’m glad to share that story.’

“Lindenberger has younger siblings, and he said that he hopes they get vaccinated.”

“Lindenberger’s mother, Jill Wheeler, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that that she was proud of how her son carried himself even though ‘I didn’t agree with anything he said.’ Wheeler said she feared her children having a bad reaction if they were vaccinated, and questioned why a teen was given a national platform to discuss the topic. ‘They’ve made him the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry,’ she said.”

Nonetheless, an unvaccinated 6-year-old Oregon boy had cut his forehead and “…six days later,” another Times story reports (Mar. 6), “his parents realized something was seriously wrong: He was clenching his jaw, having trouble breathing and experiencing involuntary muscle spasms. …

“ ‘I honestly never thought I would see this disease in the United States,’ said Dr. Judith A. Guzman-Cottrill, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Oregon Health & Science University, who helped care for the boy and was the lead author of the article.

“She said she never wanted to see it again. ‘It was difficult — for many of us — to see him suffer,’ she said on Saturday.”

At the Senate panel, Lindenberger explained that parents are not the only ones who need better education. “Most of my friends didn’t even understand they could get vaccinated despite their parents’ wishes,” he added.

The World Health Organization cites “vaccination hesitancy” as one of its top ten threats to global health.


  1. Personally, I find it interesting the different point of view Lindenberger has at the age of 18 compared to the point of view I had at that age. I guess it all depends on what parents teach or decide to give their children. During my teenage years, especially 18, I was not thinking about what vaccines I got because my mom is in favor of vaccines.

  2. I’m glad for this kid and that he is getting the vaccinations he needs. It is truly a shame that parents aren’t allowing their kids to get vaccinated because it would help them in the long run.

    Even if vaccinations did cause autism, which [they don’t], anti-vaccinations would still be ludicrous. They protect us from so many diseases! I’m grateful for having parents that looked out for my interests and got me vaccinated.

  3. An extremely controversial topic with a new, yet significant stance, in favor [of] vaccines!

    This teen is obviously [intelligent] and took the initiative to not only do research [and] ask for advice, but also did the adult thing and [received] counseling [from] a doctor before making a decision. Most of us did not have the opportunity to make the decision and had our parents choose which vaccines (if any) were given to us.

    To have a young teen make the decision at will sets a new tone for the importance of getting vaccinated.

  4. Ah…lets just utilize the statistically proven data. Get vaccinated and REDUCE Autism Spectrum Disorder risks by 7%.

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