Over 8,000 Amish people across six Ohio counties have been vaccinated for measles in response to the recent outbreak, according to Melanie Amato of the Ohio Department of Health.
Eight thousand is a significant number. The Holmes County community is home to around 33,000 Amish. Considering any other Amish communities lying in the six-county area (Knox, Ashland, Holmes, Coshocton, Wayne, Richland), you have around 55 more church districts, or using an average of 130 people per district, about 7,000 more Amish.
This rough calculation would suggest about 20% of the region’s Amish have been vaccinated in response to this outbreak. At the same time, a local reader reports a number of factors continue to tamp down enthusiasm for the vaccine.
Number of cases continues to grow
I’ve been periodically updating the original measles post with media reports. You can check the current numbers by county at the Ohio Department of Health website. The current count is 177 cases, with 7 hospitalizations. Knox County is by far the hardest hit, with 111 cases.
Obviously, first and foremost is the health concern for those afflicted, as measles can cause complications and occasionally be fatal.
A secondary issue is the economic impact this outbreak might have. I haven’t seen anything addressing how this might damage tourism to the region. The Holmes County area gets around 4 million visitors annually. Will visitors stay away this year? How might that affect the area’s businesses, Amish and non-Amish?
The outbreak has affected lives in other ways as well–interrupting the normal patterns of Amish life, with individuals in quarantine, or as a local Knox County woman shared in this NBC4 story, religious services cancelled: “It has been a month that church has not been going on every other week. People have not been able to visit one another and there is a feeling of isolation.”
You can view the NBC4 report on the story, with footage of Amish getting immunized in Knox County: