Vaccinations are considered by most to be a medical miracle that revolutionized global health by preventing the spread of fatal illnesses that once ravaged societies around the world. With just a few shots from the pediatrician, diseases like measles, rubella, mumps, and more have been virtually eradicated. That is, until the anti-vaccination movement.
In addition to those who are grateful for the support of modern medicine, there is also a growing number of people who believe vaccinations are dangerous. Some believe they are a government mind control scheme, others feel they are a money-making ploy by big pharma. Whatever their reasons, the group is proudly refusing to vaccinate their children, which means that those long eradicated, deadly diseases are once again proliferating.
As the children who grow up in anti-vax houses get older, many are realizing their vulnerability, and seeking out the medical care they need on their own. When one Ohio teen reached out to Reddit for advice on how to get himself vaccinated, the story went viral and resulted in him speaking about his experience before Congress.
The anti-vaccination movement has been around almost as long as vaccines.
via: ShutterstockPeople who are more inclined toward a ‘holistic’ approach to wellness deemed the medicine dangerous primarily out of fear, not facts.
The Internet has enabled exponential growth within the anti-vaccine movement.
Documentaries like Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, independently produced YouTube videos, and hundreds of online articles employ the use of pseudo-scientific phrasing and unverified claims of vaccine risks to stoke the anti-vaxx fire.
Many celebrities are staunch anti-vaxxers.
Here's a fairly comprehensive, continually updated list of anti-vaccination celebrities http://t.co/fdyzijsrZ8— Jezebel (@Jezebel)1435680617.0
Online messaging and celebrity support has created a culture of fear of vaccines.Many parents have been scared into refusing vaccinations for their children.
Some of those children don’t agree with their parents’ decision.
via: ShutterstockWhile their families may be firmly anti-vaccinations, many of the kids growing up vulnerable to fatal disease are seeking out the cures as they learn more about the shaky foundation of the anti-vaxx movement.
Ohio teen Ethan Lindenberger recently took a stand against his mother’s anti-vax opinions before Congress.
A high-school senior fed up with his parents’ anti-vaxxer beliefs went from Reddit to the halls of Congress: “I wen… https://t.co/LBPxSxryWP— The Daily Beast (@The Daily Beast)1551826788.0
His mother, Jill Wheeler, was always vocal in her opposition to vaccines.
ALERT! COMING UP TONIGHT! Jill Wheeler, mother of the Ohio teen whose "vaccine defiance" went viral online and in t… https://t.co/OCulpVShoU— Super Don (@Super Don)1550180389.0
When Lindenberger joined his high school debate team, he realized the value in fact-checking and research and applied those skills to the vaccine conversation.
via: ShutterstockAs the 18-year-old discovered more information from the Center for Disease Control and other verified sources, he realized his parents had put him at risk by not getting him his shots.
He presented his mother with facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.
via: ShutterstockBut Wheeler was unconvinced, and mistakenly explained to her son that these sources were propaganda.
Not knowing how to resolve his looming health risk, Lindenberger turned to Reddit for advice.
Fellow Redditors came to his rescue.
The story quickly went viral.
"I have spent the last four years trying to convince my mother that vaccines are safe, I haven’t succeeded. So inst… https://t.co/3Lr6t3GUfz— Sherry Pagoto (@Sherry Pagoto)1549332619.0
When Lindenberger’s mother found out, she was pretty devastated.
via: ShutterstockWheeler felt her son’s decision was an affront to her as a mother, and feared the worst when she found he was seeking the immunizations she believed to be deadly.
But Lindenberger was intent on preserving his health.
An 18-year-old from Ohio credits Reddit with helping him figure out how to navigate getting his vaccines, after bei… https://t.co/iiCNGAGiEx— Intelligencer (@Intelligencer)1551723425.0
Last week, Lindenberger testified before Congress about his experience.
Ethan Lindenberger, 18, posted on @reddit about his experience in an anti-vaccine household. That post & story with… https://t.co/fz9K1CYf4V— Adrienne DiPiazza (@Adrienne DiPiazza)1551784520.0
He also defended his mother.
Sen. Isakson: Does your mother get most of her info online? Ethan Lindenberger, the 18-year-old who got vaccinated… https://t.co/11wLFKuwxE— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin)1551831915.0
But, he explained, anti-vax messaging had played upon her fears.Lindenberger attributed her incorrect beliefs to the social network groups his mother engaged in and spoke out against their aggressive spread of misinformation.
Lindenberger’s primary mission is disbanding these groups.
Ethan Lindenberger, the teen who chose to get vaccinated when he turned 18, said what's missing in this conversatio… https://t.co/3qapuINmT5— Sandhya Raman (@Sandhya Raman)1551804544.0
The hearing also featured a panel of healthcare professionals.
via: ShutterstockDoctors, scientists, and public health figures all spoke on the dangerous inaccuracies in anti-vaxx information.
The anti-vaccine movement isn’t new.
via: ShutterstockDoubts first began when a 1998 study claimed there was a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMP, vaccine, and autism.
That study was later discredited.When its “research" was found to be fraudulent, the doctor behind the study lost his license. However, the misinformation still spread.
The anti-vaxx issue has become critical.
“Vaccine-hesitant” describes parents who delay or opt out of vaccinations for their kids. The World Health Organiza… https://t.co/MTtdf0QnIs— Toronto Star (@Toronto Star)1550437504.0
Over the last decade, once eradicated diseases have begun to spread again.
The news comes amid new outbreaks of measles in the US, including 170 cases reported since September in New York al… https://t.co/bu1MrctGkL— NBC12 WWBT Richmond (@NBC12 WWBT Richmond)1550826000.0
The issue led to a state of emergency in Washington state.
JUST IN: Measles outbreak in Washington has cost state at least $1 million https://t.co/gTBUGZctth https://t.co/jxi6CJnZHf— The Hill (@The Hill)1550776744.0
People are beginning to take action as the movement reaches critical mass.
Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube are cracking down on fake vaccine news https://t.co/F8R0jP8jZn— Vox (@Vox)1551458409.0
A group of pediatric nurses in New York took a public stand.
Meet the group combatting the anti-vaccination movement with a simple, yet powerful motto https://t.co/kaNVc8iW7O— USA TODAY (@USA TODAY)1550896500.0
There are currently no federal laws requiring immunization.
via: ShutterstockOnly seven U.S. states give minors the option of receiving immunization without the consent of their parents.
A recent study has provided strong evidence against the anti-vaxx argument.
A major new study confirms the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella has no link to autism. Researchers from D… https://t.co/zm6mD41qkw— AJ+ (@AJ+)1551745128.0
Lindenberger is protected, for now.
Vaccine-preventable diseases include: Cervical cancer Cholera Diphtheria Hep B Influenza Japanese encephalitis Meas… https://t.co/nDkqNy4ByL— World Health Organization (WHO) (@World Health Organization (WHO))1550919778.0
Hopefully, his story will help the right information spread instead.
It’s so important to keep vaccinating our children: if we don’t, diseases that have become uncommon in many countri… https://t.co/Ggg1fao5n5— World Health Organization (WHO) (@World Health Organization (WHO))1550926919.0