An article making the rounds on the internet recently claims the Amish are proof that vaccines are harmful. The article basically says that the Amish don’t have all sorts of diseases and disorders and they don’t get vaccinated. Voila, some anti-vacciners say, that proves a link! The Atlantic Monthly this week tried to debunk the article by pointing out the diseases that Amish kids do get. But there’s one other problem: the notion that the Amish don’t vaccinate their children is a false one.
I am not going to wade into the vaccine debate. I wish I could. But I have learned something about that topic. People are dug in so stridently on both sides that you can’t really have a discussion. If you want to discuss the merits of vaccinations with pro-vacciners they basically shut down the discussion with “what is there to discuss? The government says to get the vaccines, end of story.” The anti-vacciners are often so shrill with the harm you are likely injecting into your child when you get a vaccine that you can’t really get beyond that with them. There’s precariously little room in the middle.
Anyway, back to my purpose in posting: the Amish are a patchwork of various sects with no central authority. There’s no one “church policy” regarding vaccinations. Many Amish do vaccinate their children according to government guidelines. Plenty do not. But it’s enough of a patchwork (up to each individual parent) that to draw any medical data from broad-brushing the Amish would be virtually impossible.