Ethan Lindenberger is now a world-renowned vaccine advocate. But it was only last November that the then-18-year-old gained attention following a Reddit discussion in which he asked about how to get vaccinated, despite the opposition of his “kind of stupid parents.” 

Lindenberger, who grew up without common vaccinations, finally started getting immunizations in December.

Earlier this year, he appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to share that he decided to get vaccinated because he saw that the information in defense of vaccines he got from the CDC, the World Health Organization and scientific journals heavily outweighed the concerns. 

Lindenberger’s mother, meanwhile, got most of her misinformation about vaccines on Facebook, he told the committee. He told the committee that organized groups that spread disinformation “instill fear into the public for their own gain, selfishly” and “should be the primary concern of the American people.” 

Lindenberger’s story has caught the attention of media outlets including The New York Times, NPR, Washington PostUSA Today and The Guardian. He has also appeared as a guest on Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

In June, he spoke in New York City at a high-level United Nations event on combating vaccine misinformation as the country’s measles count moved toward a quarter-century high. 

There have been 1,250 measles cases so far in 2019 (as of Oct. 3), according to the CDC. A Ted Talk Lindenberger gave earlier this year, titled “Why we need to fight misinformation about vaccines,” has reached over 1 million views on YouTube. He was named a Time Next Generation Leader this year.

Josh Righter, VP, creative director, Calcium

What can healthcare marketers — whether ones specifically working on vaccines or otherwise — learn from Ethan Lindenberger’s response to his situation?  

Looking at how Ethan’s story spread, we see honesty. We see empathy. We see genuine human connection and a desire to move each other forward. These are values that we can all take to heart. 

On its face, what Ethan did was so simple — he reached out to get information. But there was so much about that gesture that resonated. We saw in Ethan what we see in ourselves: the way we can get trapped in our own bubbles and the bravery in trying to break out, make new connections and seek a greater truth.

Here’s what it means for us. Medicines — and the pharmaceutical companies behind them — often have wonderful origin stories, from a single family member affected by a rare disease to a drive to change the plight of millions of people. But these stories don’t always match perceptions. It’s our job to tell them to the world, to help break through the bubbles and to make sure this spirit of togetherness comes across in everything we do.

Sponsored by: Calcium