4 Reasons Why Amish Are Skipping The Vaccine

Why are Amish opting out of the COVID-19 vaccine? This Cedar Rapids Gazette article about Iowa Amish and the COVID vaccine is one of the better that I’ve seen.

We get a deeper look at the Kalona Amish community, in some ways one of the more progressive settlements. Author Brooklyn Draisey speaks with several Amish leaders, including several current bishops, as well as a former bishop, to figure out what’s going on.

Kalona, Iowa Amish buggy against farmland backdrop
Photo: Lee Annette

I’ve pulled four specific reasons Amish are skipping the COVID vaccine from the article:

1. “Lifestyle” protection – Amish believe that their active lifestyles and homegrown food, along with working around livestock, keeps them healthy and their immune systems robust.

2. A belief the disease is not so bad – some Amish were hospitalized, but we learn that “this year hasn’t seen much more illness than others…in terms of people not feeling well enough to be out and about. Many people lost their sense of smell and taste, and some felt like they had the flu, but few felt worse than that.”

Like in other Amish communities, it is thought that “many people in the community did contract the coronavirus at some point.” Few have been tested, unless hospitalized. But a local funeral director confirms that there has been a “lack” of deaths due to COVID there.

3. A belief in natural immunity – as it’s believed that most have had COVID, there is a belief that natural immunity protects them. So what is the point of getting a vaccine, the thinking goes. This is also similar to other Amish communities.

4. Concern over long-term side effects – Amish are described as “wary of potential long-term side effects” of the vaccine, preferring to “get sick and recover”. The vaccine is seen as something like the flu shot and other inoculations, which most Kalona Amish do not receive.

Belief against the vaccine is strong enough that bishop Elson Miller has even discouraged his church from getting immunized:

While getting the COVID-19 vaccine is ultimately a personal decision, Miller said he has discouraged people in his district from receiving COVID-19 vaccines. The majority opinion has been that people will take the disease over the vaccine, he said, because it hasn’t seemed that bad.

“In our opinion, we rely on our healthy immune systems for our vaccine,” Miller said.

Another bishop named Tobias Yoder sounds of similar mind: “If you asked me if COVID-19 was a threat, I’d say no.” Former bishop Vernon Yoder shares that as far as he knows, no one in the community of nearly 2,000 Amish plans to get a vaccination.

Burdens and blessings

Like in other Amish places, there was a relatively brief pause in holding church services and other events beginning last March. For a time they held church outside in their buggies. Things were back to normal by June, with large gatherings like weddings and funerals happening as usual. The period of religious service shutdown was described as “difficult” for the community.

Parked buggies in the Kalona, Iowa Amish community
Photo: Don Burke

Tobias Yoder felt that the church restrictions were an infringement on their religious freedoms, describing it as a “political” issue. Vernon Yoder said it made him consider the rights his people had, and how they could lose them: “It made us think about the things we take for granted, and the blessings we have.”

At the same time, the bishops emphasize that Amish have been following the rules while in town, such as wearing masks at the bank. Tobias Yoder stresses the need to treat each other with respect, and echoes the words of an Indiana bishop reported back in March 2020: “Don’t force your sickness on others, but don’t live in fear.”

Lancaster County efforts going nowhere?

Meanwhile, efforts to convince Amish residents to vaccinate continue in Lancaster County, with little apparent effect.

This WGAL report informs us that clinics have been set up in heavily-Amish areas – Paradise and a site in southern Lancaster County – and ads have been placed in the Busy Beaver, a weekly publication popular with Amish. But, it doesn’t sound like many are showing up. Amish have been invited to the vaccine party – repeatedly – and the hosts keep getting stood up. I’d expect that to continue.

In fact at this point I am skeptical that any change of tactics would lead to large numbers of Amish getting vaccinated. COVID has been here well over a year now and beliefs on it have become too ingrained. But I guess they can continue to try.

I am a bit surprised (but – just a bit) at the amount of attention the Amish have gotten on this topic. The Amish make up roughly .001 of the US population, but they sure are getting a lot of coverage as far as COVID and the vaccine go. Why might that be?

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    1. Alice Berger

      Smart people

      Nice to see that they’re using excellent reasoning to reject an experimental gene therapy for a very treatable virus with a much lower than expected death rate. I agree with their logic.

    2. Rozy

      Me too!

      I feel the same way about the fact that I have a robust immune system, do not want to be given an experimental, unproven “vaccine” therapy, and have family members who say they’ve had colds worse than what they felt with covid19.

      Amish get lots of attention because they don’t blindly follow the government or culture. Rather, they make thoughtful decisions after weighing the pros and cons, and looking forward carefully to discern any unintended consequences of actions or adoptions. Oh that we all were more like them!

    3. susan kingsey

      You wonder why they get a lot of attention? Because the government hates their independence to decide what is good for themdelves. They are indirectly enforcig the vaccine on the populace and couldnt tolerate even the .001% to refuse it. Why are they desperate to vaccinate the whole wide world!! SARS and EBOLA are highly deadly more than covid but no vaccine was developed for all these years the virus has been surging. I f our precautionary measures were able to curtail SARS and EBOLA, I dont see an exception in COVID!! How I wished we are all Amish!!!

      1. Ryan

        COVID spreads far more easily than SARS or Ebola, which is why there have been millions of COiVD deaths in a single year worldwide, but only a few thousand Ebola and SARS deaths combined ever. The death rates are much higher for Ebola and SARS, but that doesn’t matter if the transmission rates are so low that very few people catch it in the first place. I have loved ones who died alone in hospitals from COVID so I’m shocked that a year later, the misinformation still rages on. Please everyone, get vaccinated.

    4. Deborah

      Not Just the Amish

      I drive by the largest covid shot clinic in Indiana day after day and I have seen TWO cars there. This is in Indianapolis. They have dozens of tents and dozens of people standing around or sitting in cars and doing nothing. I’m sure our tax dollars for the next 100 years are paying for it. It’s not just Amish people not taking the shot. It’s just that the Amish are Christians. Look at Canada, they are arresting pastors that hold services while hundreds of people are in the mosques and synagogues at any given time. It’s all about demonizing Christians and it’s just going to get worse.

    5. Casey

      Yes & No

      I firmly believe each person should choose to do what is best for themselves and their families. My children are grown so I have no more say as to whether they get immunized against anything. Of course, my daughter chooses what to do with her 3-year-old daughter. She does, however, seek my advice since I have raised four basically healthy children. Sure, they have had regular childhood illnesses and such, but fortunately that was all. I am fully vaccinated. I have administered COVID-19 vaccines to those who come to my facility. One of my 27yo sons has been fully vaccinated and his twin brother plans to be. In the beginning I swore I woupd NOT take these shots. I was terribly adamant about it. But as findings emerged and new data was learned, I chose to educate myself. And with an elderly father who has Parkinson’s as well as mild congestive heart failure, I felt getting as much info as I could was the best path. Then my friend, who was the pharmacist who got me into the field, died from COVID-19. And it was a very ugly death. That was the beginning of a change for me. Then our patients began to die. Then my friends lost parents and other family members. When I decided to give the shots, it was out of respect for those we had lost. In honor of my friend, Paul.I did not want their deaths to be in vain. If I could help even one family, one person, avoid the senseless loss my friends had been through, I was going to do it. I received my first I injection on my dad’s birthday. As I pulled into his driveway to visit, I got a call from my boyfriend who told me his own loved one had passed away about three hours prior. It cemented my feelings that I was doing the right thing. Besides, my own ethics would not allow me to administer immunizations I was not willing to take. I got my second dose at the end of January. Aside from the typical post-jab issues I had no real problems. My boyfriend has had his, also no real problems. My son – again, no real problems. No, we don’t yet know what will happen in the long-term, because that is a long way away. But I personally feel it was the right thing for me to do. I can hold my head up and not be ashamed. I did what I did to protect others, not really myself. Many of us believe it is likely we had COVID prior to the mass testing. Yes, most people will live through it. But for those who won’t, I believe getting a couple of shots is worth it to keep them safe. The Amish are not ignorant people by any means. They are generally kind, intelligent human beings who want the best for the world. But many of them are more isolated than most of us, whether it be by geography or choice. Though I know that isn’t quite as true as it once was. They are doing what is best for them. I am sure if they have children or others who are health compromised in some way, if it would help keep them safe, they would choose to accept being immunized. It really must be about personal AND general welfare. Not just one or the other. As Christians we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. We must show them the same courtesies we show in our own homes, if not more. No one wants to cause their friends and neighbors to become ill. No one wants to bear that burden. But there again, we must choose what is best for our circumstances in life. We should always think about the greater good. Temporary restrictions are nothing new in this world but they are also simply that, temporary. It is not about losing freedom, it is about loving your fellow man enough to submit to him. What do I mean by that? True submission, true love, is about putting someone else’s best interests above your own. That is what Biblical love is all about. I guess I did not comment directly to the article very much, I just went were I felt led. Thank you for allowing me to do so.

    6. Fran Pag

      I am glad to see someone acknowledging consideration of the long term effects of the vaccine. This is something hard to get a report on, though I believe this is a modified SARS vaccine which has been in the works for 10 years. Will be interesting to see how things evolve.

    7. J.O.B.

      Why they get attention....

      People who are viewed as different tend to get more attention. For better or worse.

      People also tend to form opinions about you and voice them as well.

      Many people view them as “behind the times” based on their dress and mode of transportation. This may cause some people to want to ‘educate’ them and tell them what to do as if they are children.

      Living a plain life does not mean you are a simple people.

      1. I’d agree with all you wrote.

        I also think they are a group that is easy to publicly criticize with little to no fear of retaliation.

    8. Joe Kronick

      I agree

      I agree 100% with them.

    9. Oceanwisemama

      Good for the Amish

      Good for the Amish, and interesting that I cannot find one case of a death due to Covid, perhaps there is one? Even so, why do some on this thread feel they should be vaccinated if they have natural immunity and no deaths? Shouldn’t that say something?

      For those who are hurting from the loss of a loved one due to complications from COVID, I am truly sorry. What a heartbreaking disease, and even more heartbreaking for anyone to die alone without family, and without enough time to say a proper Ahui Hou.

      Remember though, that an experimental gene therapy inoculation is not a cure, and those with this inoculation can still spread the virus, per the CDC on breakthrough infections.

      Cures don’t kill people, injure people, segregate people, bribe people, they don’t need liability clauses, they don’t need PR campaigns, and they don’t need censorship, and most of all, cures don’t actually help spread the disease they are supposed to cure.

      1. Dana

        Many good points

        Yes, I admire the Amish for staying true to their values, and for realizing how living in harmony with nature and the Divine world will keep us as healthy as possible. If people really truly cared about others, and not only themselves, they would never support mandating an experimental medical intervention for everyone! And when censorship is happening, you KNOW they are hiding something!

    10. Alexandre Berger


      The Amish to me look like a lighthouse in the middle of a storm.

      People hope that the message in their bible is true.
      And they look at the Amish because they stand by its values, and they get hope.

      Hope that you can live according to your understanding of the will of God as it is written, in a country that despises It fundamentaly, despite acknowledging It publicly.

      I hope when I see the Amish thrive through the tempest.

      And in the darkest hour I remain calm knowing that the Light is coming.