Along with health experts and other witnesses, Ethan will discuss the importance of vaccines in preventing diseases at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Ethan announced his upcoming trip to Washington in a YouTube video on Saturday.
“My mom didn’t believe that vaccines were beneficial to the health and safety of society and believes that they cause autism, brain damage and other complications,” the 18-year-old said. “Although this has been largely debunked by the scientific community, because of that, I did not receive the majority of standard vaccines that an individual would receive. In the past few months, I caught up on all my shots now that I’m 18.”
Ethan first went viral in November after asking Reddit for advice on how to get vaccinated without the consent of his anti-vax parents, who he said, “think vaccines are some kind of government scheme.” Since then, he’s received shots for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza and HPV.
And while mom Jill Wheeler told Undark that her son’s decision was “a slap in the face,” Ethan’s testimony comes amid increasing concern about the spread of misinformation surrounding vaccination, as the number of unvaccinated American children rises.
Not only has the U.S. experienced a slew of dangerous measles outbreaks in the past year (there have been 159 confirmed cases across 10 states) but the World Health Organization recently named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats.
The hearing, titled “Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?” will be available for public viewing on March 5 at 10 a.m. via a live stream on the Senate committee’s website here.