'God knows how I'm still alive': Teenager, 18, finally gets immunized against six diseases and attacks his anti-vaxxer mom for believing the shots cause brain damage and autism - as an outbreak of measles sweep the country

A teenager has finally received vaccinations that he should have had as a young child and criticized his parents for refusing to give them to him.
Ethan Lindenberger, 18, from Norwalk, Ohio, has now had shots to immunize him against six diseases including mumps and hepatitis.
His parents refused to give them to him because they are part of the anti-vaxxer movement which believes that vaccinations cause illnesses such as autism.
However, Ethan decided to have the shots when he turned 18 because he came to the conclusion that the overwhelming scientific evidence is that they do work.
His mother, Jill Wheeler, who owns a children’s theater company, described the move as 'insulting' and a 'slap in the face'. 
 Ethan Lindenberger, Norwalk, Ohio, 18, was denied shots for diseases such as rubella, mumps and hepatitis growing up because of his mother had read debunked online theories
Ethan with mother and six siblings. Jill Wheeler (top centre) described the move as insulting and a 'slap in the face'

The mother-of-seven said: 'It was like him spitting on me, saying "You don't know anything, I don't trust you with anything. You don't know what you're talking about. You did make a bad decision and I'm gonna go fix it".'
It comes as an outbreak of measles were confirmed in ten states and a public health emergency was declared in an anti-vaccination 'hot spot' in Portland, Oregon, last month. 
Growing up, Ethan said his parents would tell him about the negative effects of getting vaccinated - including that they could cause brain damage and autism.
But it wasn't until speaking with friends that he realized he was the only one out of his peer group to not have had the life-saving vaccinations.  
The teenager ended up missing out on shots for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), chickenpox and even polio - a disease that can cause paralysis and lead to death.
Ethan said his mother was influenced by theories such as the work of discredited physician Andrew Wakefield and his  study linking the MMR vaccine to autism. 
Ms Wheeler said: 'I did not immunize him because I felt it was the best way to protect him and keep him safe.
'The oral vaccine started giving people polio. And it went from almost completely eradicated, to the numbers were shooting, sky-rocketing back up, from immunizations.' 
The teen decided to do some research and presented new information to his mother to try and change her mind, including a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that debunked the autism myth. 
Ethan told NPR: 'Her response was simply "that's what they want you to think".
'I was just blown away that you know, the largest health organization in the entire world would be written off with a kind of conspiracy theory-like statement like that.' 
Ethan said his mother 'kind of fell into this echo chamber, and got more and more misinformation'.   
Ethan says that his father was less harsh about his decision despite having the same beliefs as his mother. He told him that now he was 18 he 'could do what he wanted'.
'I’m a very obedient child,' Lindenberger said. 'I don’t really try and go against my mom. Even though I’m 18, I don’t pull that card.' 
Last year, Ethan asked for advice on how to get vaccinated on Reddit. He wrote: 'God knows how I'm still alive'.
The post got more than 1,000 responses including from other unvaccinated teenagers trying to work out how to get shots without their parents consent. 
Ms Wheeler says that her experience with Ethan has convinced her to start talking to her younger children about exempting them from vaccinations. 
She said: 'It has opened my eyes to say "I better educate them now. Not wait until they’re 18." 
Ethan said he has also tried to discuss the issue with his siblings and has gotten mixed reactions. His brother, 16, wants to get shots but his sister, 14, agreed with their mother. 
Since Ethan is now legally an adult his parents cannot stop him from getting vaccinations. 
However there are no federal laws regulating the issue for minors who wish to get shots and it varies between different states.
States often allow parents to exempt their children from vaccinations due to religious and sometimes even personal or philosophical reasons.
In Ohio, where Ethan lives, the age of consent to vaccinations is 18 and parents have the right to make medical decisions for their children.
The state allows parents to exempt their children, and Ms Wheeler said she hasn't received much 'push back' after her decision was for personal reasons. 
Non-medical exemptions from vaccinations are seeing an increase in states such as Oregon, Idaho, and North Dakota, putting those areas at risk of a disease outbursts.
It comes as a measles outbreak in an anti-vaccine community in Washington state has been declared a public health emergency by health officials.
So far, 23 cases of the highly contagious disease have been confirmed in Clark County since January 1, according to a Clark County Public Health report published on Tuesday.
Twenty of the cases are in children who have not been vaccinated. Eighteen of the cases are in children age 10 and younger.
Many parents are citing belief-based reasons rather than medical exemptions for choosing not to vaccinate their children.
Clark County - which sits across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon - has led Oregon officials to warn residents about potential areas of exposure.
People infected with the virus have visited several locations including elementary schools, high schools, churches, urgent care facilities, a Costco and a Dollar Tree.
Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by the measles virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children receive the first dose at 12 to 15 months old and the second dose at four to six years old.
The vaccine is about 97 percent effective. But those who are unvaccinated have a 90 percent chance of catching measles if they breathe the virus in, the CDC says.
Before the measles vaccine was available, more than 500,000 cases were diagnosed in the US every year, with about 500 annual deaths. 

Rise in anti-vaxxers risks disease outbreaks 

Non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations are rising in some areas of the United States - creating a risk of disease outbreaks. 
Research has found an increase in the number of kindergartners with exemptions in 12 states. 
Idaho had eight of the 10 highest exemption rates of all states in the study group. 
Camas County, the second least populous county in the state, had the highest rate, with nearly 27 percent of kindergartners having a documented exemptions. 
Utah's Morgan County was 10th, with a rate of almost 15 percent.
Currently, 7 states allow parents to exempt their children from receiving a vaccine if it contradicts their religious beliefs, and 18 states permit philosophical exemptions based on moral, personal or other beliefs. 
California allows minors as young as 12 to consent to vaccinations for hepatitis B, along with the vaccine for HPV, a major cause of cervical and other cancers.   
In Alabama and Oregon, wider statutes allow minors aged 14 and 15, respectively, to consent to their own health care. 
But most states do not have regulations and laws for immunizations. 
But here have been some moves to expand minor’s rights regarding preventative care — which would include contraception and vaccinations.
In 2017, the Texas legislature introduced a bill that would have allowed minors aged 14 and older to consent to vaccinations for cancer prevention. 
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