Search This Blog

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Antivaxxers Harass Pro-Vaccine Teen

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  TwitterFacebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.

A previous post featured the Senate testimony of Ethan Lindenberger,a senior at Norwalk High School, Norwalk, Ohio, who arranged for his own vaccination in spite of his antivax mother's wishes.

He has now learned what a number of blog posts have reported: antivaxxers can be vicious.

Megan Thielking at STAT:
His outspoken advocacy for vaccines has earned him praise from medical professionals and the public health community. But it has also drawn the ire of anti-vaccine individuals, some of whom have harassed him with abusive comments and messages on social media platforms. Some have accused him of being in “Big Pharma’s pocket,” and others have leveled death threats, Lindenberger said. That’s why he wasn’t surprised by the phone calls that inundated the UNICEF office this week — or the hostile nature of some of those calls, he said.
“That’s happened to me for months,” he said. When he testified before the Senate, anti-vaccine protestors rallied outside. Some cornered him by the elevators, he said, and he had to be escorted by Capitol police.
Even in his own hometown, Lindenberger has faced fierce criticism.
“I have friends and family, people who go to my church, who can’t stand what I’m doing,” he said. “When something becomes this polarizing, it becomes very toxic,” he added.
From his TED talk:
I'm not saying that I'm amazing, but here's what's important: through me joining this movement and this important scientific discussion, here's what happened. Facebook changed their platform. They were going to change how they approach anti-vax content. Amazon even removed misinformed books about autism and vaccines. And recently, GoFundMe took down anti-vax campaigns. We're talking about how movements like this are causing actual change, actually impacting the way this game is played and the misinformation that's lying to people and convincing them of very dangerous ideas.