Teens Fighting Back Against Anti-Vaccination Views of Their Parents

The laws vary from state to state on whether teenagers can get vaccinated without their parents’ permission. Getty Images

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Can a teenager get a vaccine without their parents’ consent? The legalities of it vary from state to state, but some teens are trying nonetheless.

Such is the case of Ethan Lindenberger, an unvaccinated 18-year-old who kicked off a Reddit thread asking for advice on obtaining vaccines.

That thread received more than 1,200 responses from the community. Lindenberger joins a pair of other self-described teenagers — including those under the age of 18 — on Reddit looking for advice, the Washington Post reports.

Call it an act of teenage rebellion, but one with health-conscious consequences.

The anti-vaccination movement has been back in the news as more than 100 measles cases, including more than 50 in Washington state, have been reported in the United States.

The rise of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases is almost certainly tied to anti-vaccine activism, experts say.

Why people don’t vaccinate their kids

While not side effect-free — no medicine is — vaccines are overwhelmingly safe.

And, experts say, any vaccination risks far outstrip the consequences of contracting the viruses vaccines are meant to protect against.

So why do parents opt out of vaccinating their kids in the first place?

The modern anti-vaccination movement was largely sparked from a discredited study published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield linking the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to autism. It was later discovered Wakefield falsified his data, and he was stripped of his medical license.

Beyond that study, there are a trove of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories online, and the ease of access and exposure to these theories may increase parents’ likelihood to not vaccinate, a 2014 study in the journal PLoS ONE concluded.

But the real reason for anti-vaccination sentiment may have less to do with our times than human nature, according to Dr. John D. Lantos, director of pediatric bioethics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

“There’s a trend that’s been noticed that when immunization rates are higher there aren’t as many diseases that they prevent and people get complacent,” Lantos told Healthline.

“When the polio vaccine came out in the ’50s, everyone knew someone who had polio and were terrified of polio, so there wasn’t a lot of refusal. In general, if people see the disease, they want the vaccine. If they don’t see it, [they think] it’s not necessary,” Lantos explained

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