Teen who defied his mother to get vaccinated will testify before Congress

Before receiving immunizations, Lindenberger hadn’t received vaccination for MMR, chickenpox and Polio

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., prepares to recieve a small pox vaccination shot from RN Lucienne Nelson, with the National Institutes of Health, at the Department of Health and Human Services, Friday. (CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., prepares to recieve a small pox vaccination shot from RN Lucienne Nelson, with the National Institutes of Health, at the Department of Health and Human Services, Friday. (CQ Roll Call)
Posted March 5, 2019 at 7:45am

Ethan Lindenberger decided at the age of 18 to vaccinate himself despite his parent’s disapproval. On Tuesday, he will testify in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at a hearing concerning the value of vaccines.

The Ohio resident garnered a great deal of media attention in recent months after he posted on Reddit asking how he could get the vaccines that usually are given during childhood.  Lindenberger’s parents refused to vaccinate him, because his mother believes in a now-debunked conspiracy theory that suggests the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism in children.

“I will be testifying in front of the committee about … outbreaks of preventable diseases as well as addressing misinformation that causes these outbreaks,” Lindenberger said in a video.

The testimony comes amid a measles outbreak along the west coast, impacting the state of Washington and Oregon. So far, there have been 71 confirmed cases of measles in Washington, and six confirmed cases in Oregon.

Lindenberger is from Ohio, one of 17 states that allows citizens to take a  “philosophical” exemption from immunizations for “personal, moral or other beliefs,” The National Conference of State Legislatures reported. Washington and Oregon allow citizens both “philosophical” and “religious” exemptions from immunization.

Before obtaining the immunizations himself at age 18, Lindenberger hadn’t received vaccinations for MMR, chickenpox and polio, he told Undark.

The Center for Disease Control recommends all three vaccinations should be administered to a child between 12 and 13 months of age. 

“It was like him spitting on me,” Lindenberger’s mother said after her son received the shots.

“I did not immunize him because I felt it was the best way to protect him and keep him safe,” she said.

The hearing, formally titled ‘Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?’, also features Dr. Saad Omar, a professor at Emory University and John Wiesman, the Washington state secretary of health.

It will take place Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. in room 430 of Dirksen Senate Office Building. It can also be livestreamed here.