In light of the measles outbreak spreading across the Pacific Northwest, one teen, who was raised by anti-vaxx parents, celebrated his 18th birthday by taking his health into his own hands. After asking Reddit for advice, Ethan Lindenberger of Ohio decided to finally get vaccinated.
“My parents are kind of stupid and don’t believe in vaccines,” he wrote in November. “[They] think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. It’s stupid and I’ve had countless arguments over the topic. But, because of their beliefs I’ve never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I’m still alive.”
After turning 18, Ethan said he has been vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HPV and influenza, and that he has more shots scheduled for later in the month.
However, his decision has caused a rift between the high school senior and his anti-vax parents, particularly his mom. Explaining to Undark that she chose not to vaccinate five of her seven kids because she wanted to protect them, Jill Wheeler said that Ethan’s decision was “a slap in the face.”
She then went on to add, “It was like him spitting on me, saying ‘You don’t know anything, I don’t trust you with anything.'”
But Ethan stands by his choice, saying in a Reddit update, “I love my mom, but she’s crazy. Her radical and unscientific views put my siblings at risk… it IS bad to not keep your children safe.”
And Ethan isn’t the only teen defying his anti-vaxx parents. There’s recently been a spike in Reddit posts with kids asking for tips on how to get around consent laws and get vaccinated without their parents’ permission before they turn 18.
It’s something that Ethan wants to help his younger siblings navigate. While he says that his 16-year-old brother plans to get vaccinated when he turns 18, he’s most worried about his two-year-old sister, telling the Washington Post, “It breaks my heart that she could get measles and she’d be done.”