NORWALK, Ohio - For many teenagers, turning 18 years old means celebrating at a party but for one Norwalk teen it meant going to get a slew of vaccinations he no longer needed his parents' permission to receive.
“For 16 years I haven’t received any vaccinations,” explained Ethan Lindenberger.
He says the only shot he received, tetanus, as a toddler was out of necessity. Lindenberger says his parents do not believe in vaccinations unless absolutely necessary.
“Her opinions are mostly not backed by science, so very largely illogical or rooted in misinformation,” said Lindenberger, about disagreeing with his mom. “I’ve done so in the most respectful way I can.”
Lindenberger says he began researching the benefits of vaccination years prior and presented the information to his mother.
“At the end of the day you have to do what you feel is best for your children and it’s not going to be agreeable to everyone,” said Jill Wheeler.
Lindenberger says he was vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HPV and influenza during his first visit to the county health department and has more vaccinations scheduled for later this month.
Initially, he said his first major decision of adulthood was a sticking point within his family but now has some of his siblings rethinking their stance on the issue.
“I have seven children; five have not been vaccinated,” said Wheeler.
“My 16-year-old says, you know, ‘I haven’t made a concrete decision; I’m not sure what I believe or what I want.’ My 14-year-old is saying, ‘I believe what you believe, mom,’” she continued.
Wheeler says she was vaccinated as a child; however, she says she does not believe in the need to vaccinate her children. She explained although she is anti-vaccine she is not against using modern medicine to treat a sickly child.
“I have a two-year-old sister and five-year-old brother and because of their age and vaccines can prevent them from getting a disease that’s preventable, I do worry about them,” said Lindenberger.
Lindenberger says he hopes his siblings draw their own conclusion about the issue. He says his family opted out of the required vaccinations for years.
Ohio is one of several states where parents can make that decision.