Norwalk young adult joins drive to get teens vaccinated
Ethan Lindenberger gained national attention in 2019 and testified before a US Senate hearing on vaccine misinformation
NORWALK, Ohio – A former Norwalk teenager who gained national attention in 2019 for defying his mother’s anti-vaccine wishes, is joining efforts to tackle Generation Z’s vaccine reluctance.
Ethan Lindenberger, 20, was 18 when he posted on Reddit that he had never been vaccinated because his mother thought the vaccines were dangerous. He ended up getting the vaccine despite his mother’s objections and then testified before a Senate committee about how misinformation that appears on Facebook, Twitter and other social media is fueling the anti-vaccination movement.
This has earned him both praise from some but contempt and even death threats from supporters of the movement.
Lindenberger has spoken out that national pressure is underway to vaccinate as many adolescents as possible now that anyone over 12 is eligible to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations.
“I think with Gen Z you see a lot of political movement and mobilization – people are becoming more politically educated and agitated in some ways,” Lindenberger explained. “We find that confidence in the government has diminished.”
There are 25 million children between the ages of 12 and 17, according to Census Bureau data compiled and analyzed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. And although the rates of death or serious illness from COVID-19 are lower in children than in adults, public health experts have said that vaccinating this population is a crucial step towards fully reopening schools. and the country’s economy.
Generation Z refers to people who were born between 1997 and 2012. At the start of the pandemic, these “Zoomers” were more eager than any other age group to be vaccinated. An NBC / Morning Consult poll in 2020 found that only 5% of young adults plan not to get the vaccine. But a year later, that number rose to 26% in 2021.
But could the Ohio Vax-a-Million Vaccine Lottery help?
Gov. Mike DeWine credited his vaccine incentive lottery Monday for an increase in immunizations last week. Ohio saw a 94% increase in vaccinations among 16 and 17 year olds and a 46% increase in 18 and 19 year olds.
Lindenberger believes vaccination incentives can help, but said the government should tailor its vaccination message to young adults using their peers. “Recruiting young people into the advocacy world would be more effective,” he continued, explaining that White House Chief Medical Officer Dr Anthony Fauci delivers a strong message, “but when a more youngster said the same message, it could be like ‘Oh, maybe I should take this seriously.’ “