As the COVID-19 pandemic comes under some degree of control and tourist season reopens in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a lot of people are asking the same question — do the Amish get vaccinations?
The Amish — a small religious sect that started in central Europe — are a main attraction in Lancaster, and they play a vital part in the county’s overall economic health every year. This is particularly true in the Summer when Amish-themed rides, tours, and theme parks are all open for business.
But is it safe to be near the Amish during COVID-19? Have the Amish heard about vaccination availability? Most importantly, are the Amish getting vaccinated?
The answers to these questions varies, depending on who you ask. This is because the Amish, much like us “worldly” people, vary from person to person in their priorities, access to healthcare, and understanding of the current situation.
That’s the short answer.
The long answers are below.
We’ll start with the biggest question at hand.
Do the Amish Get Vaccinated?
In short, yes, the Amish get vaccinated. The rate of vaccination among the Amish is fairly similar to the non-Amish population.
However, it’s important to note that there are different beliefs and levels of education even in a the Amish community, which is famously homogenous.
It’s noted that several Amish sects in Ohio in particular are against COVID vaccination for whatever reason. This may have to do with the fact that Ohio can be a more rural area than even Lancaster, PA, but it’s still noteworthy all the same.
Regardless, there is no explicit reason for an Amish person to refuse vaccination. The Amish do not have religious beliefs that coincide with vaccines. This is partly because Amish beliefs rarely change, and the Amish themselves were founded in the late 1600s — well before the invention of modern medicine.
But we’re glossing over a lot right now. The Amish are a closed-off sect of religious fundamentalists who rarely receive new members to their communities. So even if they want to get vaccinated, there may be some outlying factors that prevent an Amish person from receiving a vaccine for COVID or anything else.
Why Wouldn’t an Amish Person Get a Vaccine?
There are a handful of reasons why an Amish person may not get a vaccine, but this list is hardly exhaustive. It’s also important to note that the reasons will probably vary depending on an Amish person’s location and personal beliefs (not to mention their local community).
1. Personal Anti-Vaccination Beliefs
Just like with the general public, there are some Amish people who are believers in anti-vaccination.
Despite the fact that this is an entirely ridiculous concept with absolutely no evidence to its credit, the Amish don’t have access to modern information networks like the Internet. This means it can be easy for someone with these incorrect beliefs to persuade an Amish person to believe something, even when it’s not remotely true.
As a result, you have some Amish people who would be considered anti-vaxxers by today’s standards. But, if anything, this doesn’t come from a malicious hate against vaccines.
It more comes from poor education and malicious manipulation from outside sources.
In that regard, it’s somewhat tragic to meet an Amish person who’s an anti-vaxxer. Considering most Amish only have an eighth-grade education and often stick to manual labor careers, they can commonly only find the concept of anti-vaccination from people who are deliberately misleading them.
2. Lifestyle Choices
Second, Amish travel by horse and buggy primarily, which is slow. Many also don’t have access to phones to call for healthcare. To make things more isolationist, they tend to live in rural or otherwise inaccessible locations.
In a nutshell, this means it’s more challenging for an Amish person to seek healthcare than most other people from a logistics standpoint.
It’s also important to note that home births are still quite common in the Amish community. Midwives are the primary caregivers during births unless there needs to be a C-section, and these midwives often arrive on the scene of Amish homes during a birth to help the mother through labor.
As a result, the Amish are not always in medical facilities when a child is born. A midwife almost certainly informs the family of the important doctor appointments and vaccinations available for a newborn, but the Amish family’s ability to perform those followup tasks is not as easy as it may be for the common American.
It takes more planning, foresight, and time away from home. This means it also requires time away from work and other family members.
In other words, it can absolutely be more challenging — though not impossible — for an Amish child to get the same vaccines that you’d see a “worldly” child receive.
3. General Ignorance
It can’t be stressed enough that the Amish are an isolated group of individuals, despite the fact that there are Amish in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Canada, and other areas.
They believe mostly the same things, but they’re different groups because of the geography that separates them.
Incidentally, they often don’t have ready access to modern information or news.
This, consequently, means that it’s possible for an Amish person — or even a whole community — to be unaware that COVID even exists right now, depending on how isolated the Amish community is.
This goes beyond the Amish that you would find in Lancaster and extend to the truly isolated groups that live in places like Central Pennsylvania, where you find even more conservative denominations like Yellow Toppers and White Toppers.
And if that’s the case, it could honestly be because the community itself hasn’t been in contact with someone who’s carrying COVID.
However, this also makes the Amish communities susceptible to an outbreak. Ignorance of the pandemic combined with a lack of access to healthcare means a single case of COVID could run rampant and do serious damage to an entire group of Amish people.
This is especially true because Amish communion often encourages the communal drinking from a single vessel. So if you’ve ever had the bread and the cup — as some Christian denominations call it — imagine drinking from the same cup that’s passed around the entire congregation.
You’re inviting all of the pathogens in everyone else’s body into your own.
This is — and has been — a way that COVID can spread quickly throughout an Amish community.
In at least one instance in Lancaster County, it has led to the death of an Amish bishop and probably others.
In this regard, the case of general ignorance is perhaps the largest proponent behind an Amish person who doesn’t get vaccinated.
It’s also, unfortunately, one of the most dangerous.
Overall Takeaway: The Amish Get Vaccinated
While this may not be the most positive blog post we’ve ever written, the bright side to all of this is that the lion’s share of the Amish are open to vaccinations, even if they don’t have the logistical means to travel and acquire their vaccinations.
This is true for COVID and other vaccines. Despite having an eighth-grade education, most Amish understand the value of protecting themselves and their families against diseases via vaccine, even if they don’t always have the same information as the regular public.
As a result, it’s smart to play it safe around the Amish. They may or may not be vaccinated, depending on the priorities that they have in their lives.
The best thing you can do is to be fully vaccinated yourself while practicing social distancing and mask protocols for anyone you know who isn’t vaccinated — like small children.
These precautions have been shown to keep non-vaccinated individuals safe, so it’s smart to practice them when you’re in contact with an Amish person.
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