Joshua Nerius is living proof of how dangerous the anti-vax movement can be. Having never received a vaccine as a child, the 30-year-old contracted measles three years ago—and now he hopes his story is a warning to parents about the importance of vaccinations in preventing infectious diseases like his own.
“It makes me so angry,” Nerius said in an interview with CNN. “My parents thought they were doing the right thing. They were persuaded by the anti-vaxxers.”
He was diagnosed with measles in May 2016 after coming into contact with someone who was contagious at his sister’s college graduation. “I didn’t interact with anyone at that graduation besides my own family, so it was literally just me walking by someone,” Nerius told CNN.
Describing the disease as “horrible,” Nerius said it “took a serious toll” on his body (he lost 25 pounds and at his worst, couldn’t even walk without help). He then explained that it all could’ve been prevented if his mom had gotten him vaccinated—and that he doesn’t understand why some parents still refuse vaccinations, despite all of the evidence proving their life-saving abilities.
“The science on this has been settled,” he said during the interview. “It’s been solved. When I look at where we are today, with people who are willfully deciding to ignore the facts, it really frustrates me. I just don’t understand the mindset of people who want to spread fear.”
Nerius isn’t the only child of anti-vaxxer parents who is speaking out. At a Senate hearing on March 5, Ethan Lindenberger, the Ohio teen making waves for getting vaccinated against his mom’s wishes when he turned 18, stressed the importance of providing parents with the right information.
He said, “The debate around vaccines is not necessarily centered around information, and concerns for health and safety, this is why education is so important, and also why misinformation is so dangerous.”