An Ohio teenager who chose to be vaccinated against his mother’s wishes was the star witness at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.  

2019 is on pace to be a record-setting year for measles outbreaks in the country. 

Lawmakers in Washington are hoping to find ways to reverse the trend.  And today they turned to a teenager for a unique perspective on the issue. 

 Ethan Lindenberger, vaccination proponent says, “My mother is an anti-vax advocate.” 

Years after his parents refused to get him common vaccines, 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger did his own research and decided to get them on his own. 

Lindenberger says, “I saw that the information in defense of vaccines outweighed the concerns heavily.” 

The Senate health committee used Ethan’s story to highlight what medical experts and lawmakers say is a growing problem: Un-vaccinated children. 

Tennessee Senator Lamar  Alexander says fear of vaccines has led to alarming outbreaks of measles in parts of the country where vaccination rates are relatively low.

Sen. Alexander, (R-TN) says, “Internet fraudsters who claim that vaccines are not safe are preying on the unfounded fears and daily struggles of parents.” 

In response medical experts want Congress to increase funding for vaccine research and availability.

All but three states allow parents to refuse to vaccinate their children for religious or philosophical reasons.  In the wake of measles outbreaks, some states are considering ending those exemptions. 

But Kentucky Senator Rand Paul argues the government should not force parents to vaccinate their children

Sen. Paul (R-KY) says “Force is not consistent with the American story nor is force consistent with the liberty our forefathers sought when they came to America.” 

Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R-LA) “If you’re such a believer in liberty that you do not wish to be vaccinated then there should be a consequence and that is that you cannot infect other people.” 

While that debate continues vaccine advocates are calling for a nationwide marketing campaign on vaccine safety and effectiveness to counter misinformation parents receive online. 

Vaccination advocates envision a marketing effort similar to the renowned truth campaign that took on big tobacco. 

Except this campaign aims to spread the truth about vaccines.

Reporter Drew Petrimoulx reports for KARK’s D.C. Bureau.