Teens are online looking for information on how they can protect themselves
Vaccinations have been front and center recently as outbreaks of once eliminated diseases are coming back at alarming rates. While anti-vaxxers continue to spew misinformation about vaccines, it’s their kids that are getting lost in the shuffle. But as they age, some of these kids are challenging their parent’s beliefs and are seeking information about how they can get vaccinated on their own.
One such teen took to social media after years of debates with his mom about her anti-vax stance. Ethan Lindenberger wrote a thread on Reddit, sharing his frustration and seeking advice on his options to finally become fully immunized. He writes, “My parents are kind of stupid and don’t believe in vaccines. Now that I’m 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?”
“My parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. It’s stupid and I’ve had countless arguments over the topic,” Lindenberger wrote. “But, because of their beliefs I’ve never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I’m still alive.” He went on to say now that he has a car and his own money, he wants to get vaccinated but hadn’t really talked to anyone about the process.
Lindenberger isn’t alone. Another minor took to the platform to voice his concerns, saying his mom won’t even tell him what he has or hasn’t been vaccinated for and because of this, isn’t sure how to ensure gets the right vaccinations for himself. “I, as well as my siblings, hold the ideology that vaccines are a public health issue, and a personal responsibility to the benefit of the population, not a right you can revoke from your children,” he wrote. “My mother refuses to budge on her position, and I still demand to be fully vaccinated. Being a minor, I don’t see a way for me to take my health into my own hands.”
Still another shared her vaccination records on Reddit after being denied them as a child. “My parents denied me vaccinations as a child,” she wrote. “Today, I was finally able to take my health into my own hands!”
It can be difficult, especially as a minor, to seek advice or medical treatment on their own. To say nothing of the fear and misinformation that must exist within their home, it likely feels like a huge undertaking to do on their own.
Today, there are still 17 states that allow parents to refuse required vaccines for philosophical reasons, and as a result, put millions at risk. The World Health Organization named “vaccine hesitancy” as a top 10 biggest global health threat in 2019.
For kids like Lindenberger who are getting older and are able to find out information on their own, they are making decisions based on science. “When I started looking into it myself, it became very apparent that there was a lot more evidence in defense of vaccinations, in their favor,” Lindenberger said on NPR’s Weekend Edition. He has since been fully vaccinated.
If you or someone you know is seeking information on vaccinations, you can visit vaccines.gov for more information and a list of locations near them that offer vaccinations.