Teen vaccine rebel Ethan Lindenberger testifies to US Congress

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A USA teen who defied his parents to get immunised at 18 has spoken at Congress, revealing his mother's harmful anti-vaccination "information" came largely from social media. He said he'd show his mother scientific studies but she instead relied on illegitimate sources that "instill fear into the public".

An Ohio teenager who defied his anti-vaxxer mother's wishes and got all his shots at 18 has testified before Congress about risky the spread of misinformation is. "Between social media platforms, to using a parent's love as a tool, these lies cause people to distrust in vaccination, furthering the impact of a preventable disease outbreak and even contributing to the cause of diseases spreading", he said.

There are now at least 206 confirmed measles cases reported across 11 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. In the past, Paul has questioned whether vaccines should be required, and he's parroted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, such as in 2015, when he said he'd "heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines". "I feel like if my mom didn't interact with that information, and she wasn't swayed by those arguments and stories, it could've potentially changed everything", he said.

In an interview following the hearing, she said the medical mainstream is underselling the risk associated with vaccines.

Sarah Myriam of New Jersey holds her daughter Aliyah, 2, as they join activists opposed to vaccinations outside a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the safety of vaccines, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. They in turn are a hazard to people who can't get vaccinated - babies who are too young or people with weak immune systems.

In recent weeks he has become a hero of believers in modern medicine in the United States, where experts and elected officials still struggle to convince some that their refusal to get themselves or their children vaccinated is fueling several recent outbreaks of measles.

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Yet not everyone agreed fully with some of the ideas put forth in the hearing, such as mandatory vaccine requirements.

The hearing also covered herd immunity, a tenet of immunology that states the rate of a preventable illness in a population will go down if the rate of vaccination goes up. I'm also afraid I'd go somewhere that up-charges vaccines way more than somewhere just down the street. Bill Cassidy responded to Paul and referenced how there are some vaccine requirements in place, such as in hospitals.

And while mom Jill Wheeler told Undark that her son's decision was "a slap in the face", Ethan's testimony comes amid increasing concern about the spread of misinformation surrounding vaccination, as the number of unvaccinated American children rises. His father, though, said that since he's 18 he's fine with it.

Lindenberger says such personalised accounts should be answered by equally personal stories about the deaths and other harm caused by infectious diseases that vaccines were created to eradicate.

During a Senate hearing on vaccines, Paul argued that parents should have the right to opt-out for their children.

All in all, "vaccines are safe, effective and the best protection we have against serious preventable diseases like measles", Wiesman said. He asked how to go about getting vaccinated on his own.

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