As a kid, Ethan Lindenberger never received the shots typically given to children: measles , mumps, and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, and polio, according to Undark magazine . Like many anti-vaxxers, Lindenberger's parents believe immunizations can be harmful to children and even cause brain damage. However, Lindenberger started questioning his parents' decision after conducting his own research.
He turned 18 in September, and decided to take his health into his own hands. But without the support of his family, Lindenberger didn't know how to go about getting his shots. So, he turned to the internet.
I didnt know where to get vaccinated, I didnt know the cost, Lindenberger told 9 News. I thought it might be really convenient to ask [on Reddit] because it seems that community would know answers," he explained to the TV station.
He posted his story on the Reddit thread, NoStupidQuestions and asked for advice. According to 9 News, his post was titled: My parents are kind of stupid and dont believe in vaccinations. Now that Im 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?
The post went viral, and the teen says he received both positive and negative responses to his plea for help. In the end, it helped propel him to finally get the shots.
View this post on Instagram This stories even made its way to Australia! Thanks to 105.5 for having me on! A post shared by Ethan Lindenberger (@ethanlindenberger) on Feb 12, 2019 at 8:48pm PST
Initially, Lindenberger worried about telling his parents.
I dont really try and go against my mom. Even though Im 18, I dont pull that card, he told Undark.
Unsurprisingly, his mother did not take the news well.
It was like him spitting on me," she told Undark. "[It was like] saying You dont know anything, I dont trust you with anything. You dont know what youre talking about. You did make a bad decision and Im gonna go fix it.
Lindenberger's father was more supportive and told the teen it was now his choice as an adult. So, the 18-year-old opted to get vaccinated for influenza, HPV, tetanus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, according to 9 News. He'll soon get his second HPV dose and shots for polio, MMR and chicken pox.
Lindenberger's decision couldn't have come at a better time: there have been five U.S. measles outbreaks in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention .
The teen's story has garnered him an invite to speak at a meeting for the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). He'll participate in a panel about how teens can talk to doctors about vaccinations.
Its a great opportunity to have some productive conversation, he told 9 News.