Study: 75% Of Amish Would Reject COVID-19 Vaccine

A new study with COVID implications suggests that acceptance of vaccines by Amish in one of the largest communities (Holmes County) has plummeted in the past 10 years. It also finds that Amish would refuse COVID vaccination at a rate of almost 10-to-1. The key findings:

The response rate was 39%. Among 391 respondents, 59% did not vaccinate their children, compared to only 14% that refused all vaccinations reported by Wenger et al in the same community only a decade ago. The ultra-conservative Amish rejected vaccines more often. Amish special needs children were more likely to receive vaccines than healthy Amish children. 75% responded they would reject a COVID-19 vaccine.

A drop of 45% would appear to be dramatic. That also assumes the studies were more-or-less apples-to-apples (here’s the earlier study for reference). This latest study was sent to 1000 Amish households and relied on recipients returning the survey. It could be that those who felt most strongly against vaccination would be more motivated to fill out and return a survey.

I also don’t know how good a response rate of 39% is, but it actually feels rather high to me. I doubt you’d get even half that if asking a non-Amish population to return a health survey.

The most attention-getting number of course is 75% rejecting a COVID vaccine. Only 8% said they would accept it.

Influences

There are some interesting insights found in the study. What – and especially who – influences acceptance of vaccines? The authors identify several factors:

Fear of adverse effects was the most common reason to reject vaccines. Families that accepted vaccines were more likely to cite a healthcare worker as the primary influence to vaccinate. Wives were more likely to cite their spouse as the primary influence to vaccinate. Families that rejected vaccines were more likely to state their bishop was the most influential person on vaccination.

Health care workers, male spouses, and bishops carry weight here. In the study body they also note the influence of alternative medicine practitioners or “natural doctor” on those who would reject the COVID vaccine.

Conclusion & A Question

The study’s conclusion:

The Holmes County Amish have decreasing vaccine acceptance. Efforts to improve vaccination will require a targeted focus on the primary influences and beliefs of sub-populations within the Amish. Physician advocacy, peer mentorship, father-directed education, and close partnership with Church leadership will be needed to limit vaccine-preventable disease. The Amish may be at risk for low uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The study makes note that vaccine acceptance in the general population has also declined in the past decade.

Also of note – the study was carried out with the survey mailing happening in April 2020 – near the very beginning of the US COVID experience.

Have restrictions  – and possibly educational efforts – in the ensuing 9+ months caused some to become more open to a COVID vaccination?

Finally, there are traditionally 3 big reasons why Amish are reluctant to vaccinate in general. I explain those in this video:

Image credit: Anna Nolte

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    11 Comments

    1. Leslie Harris

      75% Of Amish Would Reject COVID-19 Vaccine

      I would like to see another survey done to see if in fact there Has been a shift (however small) in vaccine acceptance since the firat survey was conducted, and if the amount of time spent around the English (e.i., co-workers, customers, etc) may have some type of influence as well.

      Of course many Americans outside of the Amish community believe that Covid is some type of nefarious hoax, as is the moon walk, a round Earth, and the Earth revolving the sun, so there you go.

      1. Amish and vaccines

        Leslie Harris: Ah, those Qanoners…

    2. Mike Lucas

      Other vaccinations

      Do the Old Order Amish in general not receive any types of vaccinations?

      1. Some do – but generally the more traditional the group, the less likely they are to vaccinate. You tend to see vaccinations happening in response to outbreaks like a big measles outbreak in Ohio several years ago, or this case in New York: https://amishamerica.com/nearly-300-amish-vaccinated-against-hepatitis-a-outbreak/

        https://amishamerica.com/8000-amish-vaccinated-ohio-measles-outbreak/

        https://amishamerica.com/do-amish-vaccinate-their-children/

    3. Erik, I’m not an educated statistician by any stretch, but I’ve worked my share of number studies. Here are a few items that stand out to me in reading through this….

      • Technically, it is not a 45% drop when one is comparing responses to two different questions: 59% did not vaccinate their children, vs. 14% who (earlier) refused all vaccinations. First “did not” is not exactly the same as “will not,” the first being a question of what has (or hasn’t) happened, the other is a question of principle. Second, “did not vaccinate” is COVID specific, where the earlier stat was about vaccines in general – which I would expected to have a significant variation between the two even in the general population. So as you allude to, there is (IMO) way too much difference (i.e., not apples-to-apples) in the two sets of stats for me to feel that a valid difference in the two can be drawn.
      • You make an excellent point that level of motivation to complete the survey comes strongly into play and might skew the results. (I wish a lot of folks would understand that concept in analyzing survey data.) I would agree with you that those with extra motivation would likely lean towards to non-vax group; however, I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that there aren’t also similarly motivated folks on the other end of the spectrum (e.g., some who might have dealt with family members who struggled with the virus.) My guess (and it’s nothing more) is that this latter group, if there is one at all, wouldn’t skew the final tally as much as those leaning against it.
      • About the 39% response rate being high…. That question did not cross my mind until I saw that you noted it, but that is likely a very valid point. It’s been better part of 20 years since I did surveys, but I’m thinking 20% response was the rule of thumb that I would at that time consider a norm. My surveys were along Baptists sent in to Baptists (i.e., “among our own”), and I would anticipate Amish responding to “outsiders” to fare even worse. So, 39% is double or better what I would have considered a realistic response level – so yeah, worthy of a serious question mark.

      Of course I’ve not looked at all the studies available to those who drew the conclusions from these studies, so I’m not in a place to be critical of their findings. But I would note a couple of things: One, to the degree that the information in this article represents what the studies show, I would say that it would be hard to ascertain the degree that general vaccine acceptance has actually dropped, and how much of the present hesitance is COVID-specific (in general), and how much is more specifically the untestedness of the COVID vaccine (this last being my own personal reason for not getting the vaccine immediately).

      Second, in the conclusion’s list of tools for improving vaccination levels they failed to include one of the most helpful tools of all at this youtube link (which, being television-based admittedly might be less effective with the Amish):

      youtube-dot-com/watch?v=dCtcJrxVvTw

      If Andy Griffith can’t help, can’t no one help. 😉

      1. Lot of good points to consider there Don. Yes the way it was worded made me question.

        On your second point – who might be more motivated – those with positive feelings about vaccines (or who have had a bad experience due to non-vaccination in their lives) or those with negative feelings? Generally speaking, I tend to think the second group is a bigger and more fervent group about the issue. Just my impression though.

        1. Yes, I would be inclined to agree.

    4. Arthur

      75% Amish rejecting the COVID-19!vaccine

      Bros Erik,
      I don’t blame 75% of the Amish rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine for several reasons. My Wife Catheryn and I feel the same exact way because it does change your genetic make up, something God has not intended to do. God give us them fighting antibodies that protects us in more ways than most understand. I was reading an article and a perfectly healthy doctor from Florida, got the first shot, upon getting the 2nd part of the shot his platelets plummeted to almost zero. He went to the emergency room with severe headaches, they tried every way to get his platelets back up and, they failed. These platelets keep you from bleeding literally. He died sadly from a brain bleed in his brain in a short amount of time.
      As I said: God gives us these antibodies that keep us safe, some have better protection than others. When you have them antibodies and, then shot is put in your body it over compensates causing you body to kill off good cells that we need. I think they should check people’s cells first before giving anyone the COVID-19 Vaccine? I don’t know all of the details yet, but this is very dangerous. I got the Flu Shot 1 year and, had the Flu for over a year off and on for 16 months, they say it won’t give you the Flu but, boy did I suffer. I’ve not accepted the Flu Shot in a few years, and not even got a cold for over 3 years. This COVID-19 Vaccine in my book is very touch, more research needs to be done and people’s cells need to be checked before getting it?
      Me and Catheryn as I said, will reject it too, it’s not natural medicine and God is too important us, we will not go against that. I think more people need to think about more how to protect themself with God at the head of it. We still wear our mask everywhere, however we see most do not, we also see stores telling people to wear masks, simply not enforced here, how sad. We do always take safety precautions, pray for others as God tells us, we also give a lot “Charity” God commands us, we try to help others as our Lord and Savior Jesus stays in the middle of our life.
      Much love to you Erik, please stay safe too.❤️
      Bros. Arthur & Sister Catheryn Mabee

      1. Mette Karlsen

        Not everyone on Earth is born with, nor may ever develop, "normal," antibody and/or other neurobiochemical activity!

        Good afternoon, Arthur,
        First, I want to praise you and your wife for praying for, and also for helping others according to our Christian faith. I really appreciate and admire that. I also am inspired by your wife’s and your clearly unshakeable, firmly-rooted faith in The Lord. I already feel something of a quietly, yet quite notieable spring in my step, so thank you!
        I fully respect all your opinions, the life/health experiences you shared, and the other things you wrote as having witnessed and/or otherwise found out about others having been harmed by. Forgive me if I sound like a hermit with the following, which I admit may not fully corespond to what happens on a daily basis in my area of SE PA, but my heart really goes out to you, your wife, the rest of your family, friends, fellowship members, neighbors, etc., but wow! Your post was the very first time in just over a year in which I found out that anyone in this country is going around/spending time in public places without masks, AND about the failure of store and other staff/managers, etc., to consistently, and strictly enforce the wearing of masks by everyone 24/7. Woah! Well, I owe you another thank you, because it might have been several weeks at least, had I not read your post, to read/hear from anyone else in this country that such things are already happening.
        In any case, I do not at all mean to be unkind, nor combative, hostile, or anything else inappropriate in any way by the following. Please at least consider that. My main reason for responding to your late-January post, in which you gave a well-detailed, easily-understandable disclosure regarding your wife’s and your opinions and (possible? I won’t put words in your mouth, which is why I added the question mark after that last word.) current disinterest re. getting the COVID-19 vaccination shots is to ask you if you would be so kind as to consider an opinion which differs from yours and your wife’s? My opinion is based on my life/health experience, on the many others I’ve closely observed suffering from inert, often inherited medical abnormalities similar to at least one of mine, as well as on my undergraduate-level neuroscience and neurotoxicology studies, one of the top 5 things in my life which I am so grateful to God for his geneoristy for having gotten to benefit from such a great opportunity. So, here is my opinion, after 43 years of life, most of which have been (unfortunately) taken up by a number of born-with-them, both those I inherited, and those I didn’t, medical illnesses, and other extremely-painful other forms of similarly-based, involuntary sufferings. I do agree, for many reasons, that, yes, most of the world’s people are born with so-called, “normal,” antibodies, and many other healthy, safe, expected body functions, abilities, and much else. But here is me (and more people, everywhere, whose number I feel is so shockingly-high, that no one on this planet, not even the most brilliant scientific researchers, doctors, etc., will ever come to find out, no matter how hard they work.): I was born without a sufficient, safe, healthy number of circulating antibodies of various types, nor with the natural ability to produce these antibodies anywhere near a healthy, safe rate, nor (if my body had been left without very intensive medical care since I was just out of infancy til today, aka, dead decades ago) can my body conduct anything near continuously-occurring antibody movement and activity without an entire team of very compassionate, dedicated medical specialists, and a good deal more, which I won’t elaborate further on, as it is very important to me to not alarm or frighten anyone, especially you and your wife, any worse than I might have already done. Please, Arthur, would you give me, and those of us who do wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations, just one short chance, in the form of thinking about the reality that many people worldwide must, or, at least, are choosing the lesser of their personal health-caused evils/sufferings by trying their best, ASAP, to be vaccinated? I am not trying to change your mind or opinion at all, nor yout wife’s. I don’t do that to people, especially not when their religious values, faith, and beliefs are involved at all. I did not write one word of what is here in order to pull some kind of (as my mom puts it) fast one on either of you, nor on anyone else who may ever read this. I have no interest in some sort of, “proving I’m right and you’re wrong.” I guess…that, for lack of better words, I just want to have a chance, so long as what I’m saying to you has not offended you or your wife, at being seen. You know, recognized. Counted. And understood, especially as someone who has not been blessed quite a bit, as I see my life and medical history so far, in the form of having received many vaccines for more diseases than I can count or remember, and shall continue receiving this specific type of medical treatment til I’m dead. As in, there will be a significant number of vaccinations later on down the road in my life, quite well after the COVID-19 vaccinations I have been praying so hard, many hours around the clock, to be permitted to receive ASAP. Last but not least, I want to say I absolutely hear you, and take you seriously about the adverse reaction you had to a flu shot a while back. Yikes! I’m very sorry that happened to you. And I agree with your commitment to not getting it again for yourself. But just one last tidbit, if I may? One of the reasons I was such a severely sickly child, adolescent, and young adult, all the way up until well after 30, was caused by the unfortunate reality that, until that well-after-30 time in my life, I had never, ever had a single flu shot, despite them always being easily, quickly, and otherwise obstacle-free available to me. I don’t blame anyone–bad things happen to good people sometimes. My point is that, had I begun receiving a yearly flu shot at the earliest possible age, my entire family, me, my school friends, my teachers, and a tremendous number of doctors, nurses, and all kinds of other medical professionals in a few different states, and in 2 European countries, would not have had to endure nearly as many hard, scary, super-challenging times, and worse, when compared to how I would have lived, if only that yearly flu shot had been given yearly. Thank you very much for reading this extremely-long message, Arthur! I really appreciate it, and will pray for you, your wife, your community, many more so that, shot or no shot, all of us on this Earth, when God wishes for it to happen, shall, hopefully, be fully free, someday, from this Corona-virus life. May God bless you and your wife, Arthur. Blessings, Mette in PA

    5. Question

      I’ve sent you an email but will try this as well, I was wondering if you offered republication rights? Thanks!

      1. Hi Jen, wrote you back, will be in touch.