Eighteen is a special birthday for many teens. The milestone into adulthood is surrounded by many legal privileges. This includes the right to make medical decisions without parental input.

However, one Ohio teen faced some backlash from his mother after he made his first major adult decision concerning his health. Ethan Lindenberger defied his parents’ wishes and decided to celebrate his 18th birthday with vaccine shots.

Screenshot/Fox 59

Lindenberger told NPR that his parents are anti-vaxxers and that he had to go behind their backs to schedule a vaccine appointment. For 16 years, he had never received shots for diseases like hepatitis, mumps, polio, chickenpox, measles, or rubella.

Last November, he asked people on Reddit where should he go to get vaccinated.

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? from r/NoStupidQuestions

His mother, however, described her son’s decision as insulting and a “slap in the face.” Jill Wheeler, who owns a children’s theater company, said of her son:

“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.'”

But Lindenberger believes his mom is incredibly ill-informed.

Watch the teen explain his views below:

Growing up, he said his parents claimed that certain vaccines could cause brain damage and autism. Eventually, he began researching the benefits of the disease prevention treatment and shared the information with his mother.

The mother of seven shared her stance on the issue with Fox 59:

“I have seven children; five have not been vaccinated.”

She continued:

“At the end of the day, you have to do what you feel is best for your children and it’s not going to be agreeable to everyone.”

After Wheeler’s experience with Lindenberger, she’s decided to convince her younger children not to receive vaccines.

Screenshot/Fox 59

According to The Hill, anti-vaccination debates are causing more and more teens to defy their parents and get vaccine shots amid measles outbreaks.

However, some have accused Lindenberger of staging his story. But he says he’s actually a high school senior and that it’s a real story.

From my Reddit AMA in case some were asking. Not addressing anything here on FB in any comments due to high levels of…

Posted by Ethan Lindenberger on Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lindenberger went against his parents’ anti-vaccine beliefs and recently received his first round of shots for HPV, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and influenza despite causing tension at home.

Watch the video below:

About the author

Tiffani is a writer for Dearly. She is from New York City. Prior to working for Dearly she covered fashion news and managed social media for various digital media outlets.

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25 Replies to “Teen Defies Parents’ Wishes and Gets Vaccinated for 18th Birthday. His Mom Says It’s a Huge ‘Slap in the Face’”

  • Willie 2 years ago

    Indeed, Mom, you don’t know anything. He’s only protecting himself, and maybe you, from preventable diseases.

  • Bertha two 2 years ago

    This should be an individual’s decision to vaccinate their kids, or not. Once a person reaches the age of consent, that person gets to decide … and be financially responsible for that decision. This mother said she’s aware not everyone will agree. The young man here did his research and decided to go ahead and get vaccinated. His choice. Dad is okay with his son’s decision. I guess Mom and Dad – perhaps – had some disagreements on this one. I wish you health and happiness for your future. One decision at a time. Good Luck, young man.

  • Cara 2 years ago

    In the first story I read about this, she didn’t have this attitude at all. She said it opened discussion and two of her younger children think vaccines are dangerous and one had decided to get vaccinated.
    I have a son with high functioning autism. Even if it were caused by a vaccine, I’d much rather have a living child, who functions a bit differently, than a child who died from complications of a preventable disease.
    But as a side note, the whole autism/vaccine debate became common after just one published study, that was later admitted to be rigged. Multiple other studies have since shown no correlation.

  • Lee Kent 2 years ago

    “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!” This young man is wise for an 18 year old.

  • Craig Murphy 2 years ago

    Sometimes, life will give you a huge slap in the face. Kids, too.

  • Anonymous 2 years ago

    At least the kid has sense.

  • Alyssa 2 years ago

    Bertha Two, it should NOT be an individual’s decision to vaccinate their children or not. Their uniformed and biased choices affect every other child that their unvaxxed child comes in contact with and the results can be deadly.

    • Rebecca 1 year ago

      How does it affect every child they come into contact with? Unvaccinated children don’t walk around with diseases. And actually, kids recently vaccinated with live virus vaccines shed for 3-6 weeks. Zero cases of wild polio in 20 years in the US. All cases are vaccine induced.

  • Marion 2 years ago

    This is a smart young man. I am old enough to have seen polio survivors and polio is now unknown because of immunizations. Ditto more diseases than I can remember.

    I did read something interesting recently about mumps. Researchers have found that mumps actually cause your immune response system to forget how to fight other diseases you have already had. Get your mumps shot early and first!

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      And I have been in a room in a hospital with 6 iron lungs, with polio survivors inside. They would never be able to breathe on their own. Non-vaccinators are too young to understand what polio is like. Or the possible consequences of other childhood diseases.

  • Chrissy 2 years ago

    Hmmm, vaccination shots or shots of tequila or heroin on his 18th birthday. You don’t know what kind of son you’ve got there, Mom. Not a slap in the face at all. You raised a thinker, that’s wonderful.

  • Darlene 2 years ago

    I don’t believe in vaccinations and I do not take medication. I am 50 and have not even had a cold since I was a teen. The last time I vomited was in high school. I have an excellent immune system. I was born at a hospital but never had a doctor’s visit until I was in my 20’s. It was for a health checkup. My siblings always went to the doctors as children. They took medications and they have the worst immune systems and bad allergies. I had the measles as a child and chicken pox that I got from my sister. I never had medication for it. I missed school a few days and they went away. Children need to be exposed to these childhood diseases to build their immune systems. I do not have an issue with people getting vaccinated, but I do not want to be lectured about my decisions.

  • Anonymous 2 years ago

    Smart move on this kid’s part. It’s called modern medicine; part of civilization.

  • Lance Merlin 2 years ago

    Smart kid. He did some research and learned about civilization and modern medicine.

  • CashGirl 2 years ago

    The real “slap in the face,” Mom, is that you refused to protect your children with these potentially life-saving vaccines! I do commend you and his Dad, though, for raising a kid who seems well informed, and can think maturely for himself.

  • cj 2 years ago

    More than likely, mom and dad are both vaccinated. Back when they were kids, most parents didn’t consider it an option. The mother seems to be the driving force behind the whole anti vaxxer attitude. “Slap in the face”? You can thank people like her for the resurgence of measles, mumps and what looks like polio. Who knows, maybe she and those like her are doing the species a favor and setting up the culling of future populations of a$$wholes.

  • Michael Bankston 2 years ago

    Vaccines have side effects because they are drugs. Side effects from vaccines are rare, however. I think that, for the most part, the benefits of vaccines vastly outweigh the risks.

  • Dave 1 year ago

    Well done . He made a great decision as an adult! Getting your child shots keeps other children well. (I think it’s abuse)

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    Human vaccination remains the longest ongoing public experiment in the history of mankind. Based mostly on junk science, there is not valid outcome studies that show vaccinations do anything protecting the ‘herd’ as the pseudoscientists call us. Note that your pediatrician, which is my profession for the last 40 years, is only a messenger. He is not a scientist or researcher that developed the vaccines. He is not part of the CDC which directs the program. But physicians are great observers. I have watched my patients get the flu after receiving the annual flu shot over and over again. If you follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) endorsed annual childhood vaccine schedule, your child will receive over 36 vaccines by the time they are 6 years of age! If you could see all the adverse reactions I have seen to childhood vaccinations including loss of hearing, permanent paralysis and death, you would definitely have second thoughts. Read both sides of the story. Research on the internet including You Tube. Be informed. Make your own decision. I only share this because this site protects my privacy.

  • JUDY 1 year ago


  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    This young man’s mother and family should feel SUPER PROUD that he is this incredibly smart and brilliant at how far he went and all the research he did. I’M EXTREMELY PROUD OF YOU KID for doing what you felt is right for you and your environment!

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    The only thing I was vaccinated for was polio. I had mumps, rubilo, measles, chicken pox . My kids had the chicken pox and measles then I had them vaccinated for polio and mumps. Do people even understand how they do the research for VACCINES? They use ABORTED BABIES to do their research to develop them. It’s a fact, THEY use to use animals til there was such an uproar over it. THEY called it animal abuse, well EXACTLY what do you call using Human CHILDREN?! FACT is before we had all of these vaccines there wasn’t anything like AUTISM in America. Other countries don’t have Autism like we do because they Don’t pump all of THOSE VACCINES INTO THEIR INFANTS AND TODDLERS!! THEY ARE DESTROYING MANY BRAINS OF OUR YOUNG. SOME CHILDREN’S AMUINE SYSTEMS CAN HANDLE THE POISON BUT MANY CAN’T!! PARENTS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO SAY NO TO VACCINATING THEIR CHILDREN, THEY ARE PROTECTING THEM FROM THE GOVERNMENT!!

  • Ziggy89 1 year ago

    Knuckleheads like this mother need to take an excursion thru whatever health facilities exist in some of the rural areas of the more poverty stricken areas of Africa along with their un-immunized kids

    It might help them to understand how much they owe to herd immunity.


  • Montana mamma 1 year ago

    I believe this is America and everyone should make their own choice. However if you choose not to vaccinate you children I think you should be forced to home school them. Your decision, your choice. I do not want my grandchildren to be exposed to diseases that were extremely rare in the US because of your choices. I never thought twice before I had my kids vaccinated, but the choice is yours own up to your decision. If you choose not to vaccinate then put your money where your mouth is and keep others safe from your children. I never thought of it as a choice, I felt it was my responsibility to my children to protect them.

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