Ethan Lindenberger grew up thinking that not being vaccinated was normal.
Now 18, the Ohio resident never got a flu shot or the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine as a boy. He never had the experience of going to the pediatrician, getting pricked in the arm with a needle and then receiving a lollipop or ice cream cone afterward.
“I had grown up with my mom being very staunch and open about her position against vaccines,” Lindenberger told CNN’s John Berman on “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” on Monday night.
“As I became a teenager and looked into it and decided that the evidence supported vaccines by and large, and that the evidence that they cause autism and brain damage and other misinformed statements weren’t true,” he said.
As soon as Lindenberger became a legal adult, he said, he decided to get vaccinated despite his parents’ objections.
“Once I turned 18, I said, ‘you know, even though we disagree, still I’m going to pursue vaccinations,’ ” he said.
In a popular Reddit post in November, he sought information about how to get his first vaccines.
The post begins with “my parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme” and goes on to ask where can he go to get certain vaccinations. About a month later, the post was updated to announce that he got his vaccines.
“I grew up not knowing that you go to the health department and get a shot in your shoulder in your upper arm for a bunch of really big diseases that could have a lot of really bad side effects and a lot of bad implications. So I turned to Reddit and said, ‘where do I go to get vaccinated?’ … And so through that, I got some good answers,” Lindenberger said.
As a child, Lindenberger said, he had the flu but never contracted chickenpox, measles or similar diseases for which he could have been immunized.
His journey to get vaccinated, however, stemmed from him wanting to protect others against diseases as much as himself. He and his parents have agreed to disagree on the issue.