Teen testifies on Capitol Hill about the importance of getting vaccinated

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Measles was once declared eliminated in the United States back in 2000. However, the extremely contagious infection has now resurfaced, and many are concerned. 

Some say the outbreak is a growing public health threat.

Currently, the United States has over 200 active cases on the Measles with almost half being in the Pacific Northwest. So now the argument over the importance of vaccinations has reached Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, Ohio high school student Ethan Lindenberger testified before the Senate Committee about going up against his own mother in an effort to get vaccinated.  When he was younger, Lindenberger said his mother never had him, and his siblings vaccinated.

During the hearing, Lindenberger spoke about how despite doing research, he still struggled to convince his mother of the importance of vaccinations.

“My mother would turn to anti-vaccine groups online and in social media,” Lindenberger said.  “For my mother, her love, affection, and care as a parent was used to push an agenda to create false distress.”

Lindenberger said his mother feared vaccines weren’t safe. However, once Lindenberger turned 18 he took matters into his own hands and started getting vaccinated.

According to CBS News, in the United States, 17 states allow parents to opt out of vaccinations for non-medical reasons. The lack of vaccinations has been blamed for measles outbreaks in five states. One of the worst outbreaks was in Washington with 71 measle cases.

Washington’s Secretary of Health, Dr. John Weisman, has urged health leaders to take action, 

“States and local health departments really are the leaders to engage their communities around vaccine information and honestly that system’s crumbling,” Dr. Weisman said.

According to Lindenberger, his primary objective during the Senate hearing Tuesday was to eliminate misinformation about vaccines,

“What I was trying to really drive home was that we should be talking about what’s true, and that’s really the biggest idea,” Lindenberger said.

Experts say the recent outbreaks are direct results from the anti-vaccine movements. The Measles is still rare in the United States because of the high vaccination rate, but it is still common in other parts of the world.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Tara Narula’s reporter with CBS News helped provide information in the writing of this story for our website. 

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