The strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations was first developed by health care professionals in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. They knew that it would prove difficult to sell to the Amish who are often wary of government intervention and preventive shots.
They began to distribute flyers in farm supply stores and auctions, where Amish sell handcrafted furniture and quilts. They sought guidance from members of the conservative sect and deeply religious sect. They advised them not to pushy. They asked three Amish newspapers to run ads in support of the vaccine. Two of them refused.
Two rural vaccination clinics were opened in May at a fire station, and one at a social service center. These are familiar locations to Lancaster County Amish. 400 people attended the clinic in six weeks. Only 12 of these were Amish.
Many Amish communities in the United States are experiencing a slowdown in their vaccination efforts due to a series of viral outbreaks that have ravaged their homes and churches over the past year. Only 14% of Ohio’s Holmes County’s total population are fully vaccinated. This is the largest Amish community in the country.
Although they don’t believe in banning vaccines, Amish people are less likely to receive vaccinations for preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles. Although vaccine acceptance is different by church district, the Amish still rely on their family traditions and the advice of church leaders. A core part of their Christian faith, however, is accepting God’s will in times when there are illness or death.
Many believe they don’t need COVID-19 because they are already sick. According to Indiana health care providers, nearly two-thirds (345,000) Amish live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.
“That’s our No. Alice Yoder, director for community health at Lancaster General Health (a network of clinics and hospitals), said, “That’s the No.
Experts believe that low vaccination rates reflect both the rural nature of the country and the general vaccine hesitancy in many rural areas.
Many Amish shop with their neighbors, and they also hire them as drivers. This means they hear the doubts, side effects, and misinformation about the vaccine from the “English” world, or non-Amish world, even though they avoid most modern conveniences.
They don’t get that from the media. They don’t watch TV or read it online. Donald Kraybill is a prominent expert on Amish culture. “In many ways they are just reflecting rural America and the similar attitudes.”
One case saw an anti-vaccine group print a newspaper ad that showed a broken buggy and the words “Vaccines may have unintended consequences.”
To combat confusion and hesitancy, public health officials have placed billboards showing Amish riding in horse and buggy. They also sent letters to bishops offering to bring the vaccines to their homes or workplaces.
Michael Derr, Ohio’s health commissioner, said that “it’s not because of lack of effort.” “But this is so politically charged.”
Fear of driving Amish people away from routine blood pressure checks or routine exams, some Amish-friendly health clinics are reluctant to discuss the matter.
Derr stated that a Holmes County business owner and organizers of a community event informed the Holmes County health department that they would not accept the vaccine if it brought it to them.
The staff at the Parochial Medical Center in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, encourage patients to get the vaccine. However, many people are not afraid of the virus.
He said, “Most people listen and are respectful. But you can tell before your’re done that they’ve already made their decision.”
After treating as many as five cases per day last fall, the clinic now sees fewer virus cases than it did in the past. “I suspect that we have some immunity. Hoover stated that although that is up for debate, he believes that this is why we are seeing only a little bit of spattering at the moment.
Using possible herd immunity to rely on when there has been very little testing among Amish people is dangerous, according to Esther Chernak (director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication, Drexel University in Philadelphia).
She said, “It’s not an isolated community that doesn’t interact with others.” They are still exposed to the outside world because they don’t have zero interaction.
It is not clear how long someone will remain immune to COVID-19. Experts recommend getting vaccinated as it provides a higher level protection.
Nearly 180 million Americans have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination. This is 54% of the total population. Experts believe that low vaccination rates could lead to the virus mutating and making a comeback.
Steven Nolt, a scholar from the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania, stated that the Amish followed social distance guidelines during the initial months of the pandemic and stopped attending funerals and church services.
He said that the group resumed its gatherings after non-Amish neighbors and elected officials tried to rescind federal and state mandates. Nolt stated that there was an outbreak last summer.
Many people now claim they have the virus already and don’t think it’s necessary to get vaccinated. Mark Raber, an Amish member of a settlement located in Daviess County (Indiana), has one of the lowest rates of vaccination.
He said, “As long the world stays the same, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get it.”
Building trusting relationships with Amish will be key to changing these opinions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a report that examined outbreaks in these communities last year.
Health care providers claim that bombarding Amish with statistics and vaccine lotteries will not work because of their distrust and rejection of government assistance. Social security benefits are not accepted by the Amish.
Trevor Thain, the owner of Topeka Pharmacy, northern Indiana, where there is 25,000 Amish, collaborated with the CDC to bridge communication gaps in LaGrange County. Only 18% are fully vaccinated.
He said that they have immunized 4200 people since the vaccine was made available. Perhaps only 20 Amish were among them.
He distributed flyers a few weeks back offering private appointments and doses that could be delivered to homes. Thain stated that only a handful of Amish responded to Thain’s flyers, with one asking Thain: “Don’t tell my family.”