Health

Who is Ethan Lindenberger? Teen Speaking at Senate Vaccines Hearing Got Shots Despite His Anti-Vax Mom

A Senate hearing on Tuesday morning on the importance of vaccines will feature testimony from teenager Ethan Lindenberger, who recently made national headlines for getting shots against his anti-vax mother’s wishes.

In a Reddit post a few months ago, the teen asked if he could get vaccinated as an adult, and his story went viral. He wrote that he had never had shots for anything because his parents considered vaccines “some kind of government scheme.”

“God knows how I’m still alive,” Lindenberger wrote at the time. “Can I get vaccinated at my age?”

In a YouTube video he posted Saturday on Twitter, Lindenberger said that his mother believes that vaccines cause autism, brain damage and other complications, but added that “in the past few months, I’ve caught up on all my shots now that I’m 18.”

The vaccinations include those for influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV, his medical records, obtained by The Washington Post, showed.

Lindenberger’s story was covered by major news outlets including the Post, CNN, Fox News, USA Today and BBC.

He will testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C., along with Washington state’s secretary of health, John Wiesman, and Immune Deficiency Foundation CEO John Boyle. The hearing comes amid a nationwide measles outbreak that has infected 150 people in 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lindenberger is a senior at Norwalk High School in Norwalk, Ohio, a church volunteer and intern, and a writer, and he is “pursuing a path of ministry,” his Twitter profile says. It adds, “I’m just me I guess.”

His mother, Jill Wheeler, said on Good Morning America that she was in "shock" at the news of her son getting vaccinated despite her disapproval. But Lindenberger claims he has remained on good terms with her despite defying her beliefs.

In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” he answered a user’s question on their relationship by writing: “My mother and I have a great relationship. Although we are continuing to discuss evidence and our different viewpoints we’ve been able to build a foundation that we still love each other regardless of disagreement.”

Tweeting a vaccination joke last week, Lindenberger injected some humor into the serious topic.

On Twitter, Lindenberger has also defied President Donald Trump. He quote-tweeted Trump’s post from February 19 in which the president said that “The Washington Post is a Fact Checker only for the Democrats.”

“Donald trump pushes his age old war against #fakenews,” Lindenberger tweeted. “No, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them fake. #CNN, #NBC, anything you don’t like? It’s fake.”

Tuesday’s hearing, titled “Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?,” will be live-streamed on the committee’s website, Help.Senate.gov. Vaccinations have become a hot topic given the current measles outbreak.

“I look forward to speaking,” Lindenberger said in his YouTube video, “and I hope you guys tune in.”

measles, anti-vax, hearing, Ethan Lindenberger A measles vaccination bottle at Miami Children's Hospital on May 16, 2014. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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