Amid a global measles outbreak, some teens are beginning to question their anti-vaxxer parents about not vaccinating them against many dangerous and deadly diseases.

One Ohio teen, Ethan Lindenberger, who said that he never received an immunization as a child, because of his parents’ beliefs, has been speaking out about his choice to get necessary vaccines.1 

He received vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV, and influenza from the Ohio Department of Health in December, according to The Washington Post.1 

Because Lindenberger is now 18, he is able to receive vaccines without his parents’ consent. A message that he posted on Reddit went viral when he asked for advice on how to get vaccinations that are against his parents’ beliefs, and it drew more than 1200 comments, including advice from a nurse.1
 
Measles Outbreaks Are Increasing Worldwide

Lindenberger told a Post reporter that he began questioning his parents years ago when his friends were being vaccinated. His mother posted antivaccine information on social media, and he decided to be proactive and do his own research. Lindenberger researched CDC studies and scientific journals. He even tried discussing his findings at the dinner table to help get himself and his 4 siblings vaccinated.1

His thorough research did not sway his parents, the Post reported.

Lindenberger especially expressed concerned about his unvaccinated 2-year-old sister, telling a reporter, “It breaks my heart that she could get measles and she’d be done.”1    

There is now a growing trend on social media about teenagers wanting to take control of their own health through vaccination. Other teens have started asking for advice after Lindenberger’s post.1
 
Seasonal Influenza Activity Increases in the United States

All 50 states have legislation regarding school vaccine requirements, and all states grant exemptions for medical reasons. There is a growing debate regarding religious and philosophical exemptions. All states, except California, Mississippi, and West Virginia, have religious exemptions, and 17 states allow philosophical exemptions.2 

Pharmacists can play an important role in educating parents about the importance of vaccines and debunking myths to prevent the spread of diseases, such as measles. Guide parents to reputable vaccine resources, such as the CDC, and encourage them to avoid joining antivaccination groups on social media that disseminate inaccurate information.    

According to the CDC, 47 states and Puerto Rico reported widespread seasonal influenza activity in the week ended February 2, 2019. This season, 28 children have reportedly died from influenza-associated illnesses.3 

Measles outbreaks are considered a public health crisis. In the United States, there were 349 confirmed measles cases in 26 states and the District of Columbia in 2018, which is the second-largest number since measles was eliminated in this country in 2000.

The rise in outbreaks is most likely because of an increase in the number of travelers returning to the United States who are infected with measles and unvaccinated individuals in this country, who are spreading the disease, according to the CDC.4

References
  1. Horton A. Unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents -- and trying to get shots on their own. The Washington Post.  February 11, 2019. washingtonpost.com/health/2019/02/10/unvaccinated-teens-are-fact-checking-their-parents-trying-get-shots-their-own/?utm_term=.efff4b3568b3.  Accessed February 12, 2019.
  2. States with religious and philosophical exemptions from school immunization requirements. National Conference of State Legislatures website. ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx#Table1. Published January 30, 2019.  Accessed February 12, 2019.
  3. Seasonal influenza activity increases in the United States. Pharmacy Times. February 8, 2019. pharmacytimes.com/resource-centers/flu/seasonal-influenza-activity-increases-in-the-u. Accessed February 13, 2019.
  4. Gershman J. Measles outbreaks are increasing worldwide. Pharmacy Times. January 16, 2019. pharmacytimes.com/contributor/jennifer-gershman-pharmd-cph/2019/01/measles-outbreaks-are-increasing-worldwide. Accessed February 13, 2019.