Amish Vaccinations for Kids

As a parent, I care about my children's health and future success. One way for me to insure their health was to immunize them when they were babies. I religiously followed the CDC schedule. It is a curiosity to me the vaccine debate that continues (it was around when I was a new mom); I've heard both sides, and do believe it's a parent's right to choose. 

I've also fielded questions from people about the Amish vaccination of their kids. I think the culture - as a whole - may feel that group immunity protects their children so most Orders avoid immunizations. Remember, the parents raise their kids to stay safely within - and carry on - their culture

With our Mosie, Harvey, Josh, and others I closely know from the Swartzentruber Order, no immunizations were given. 

As an infant, Harvey barely survived when he contracted whooping cough. And as children, others suffered some illnesses we, non-Amish, avoid. Also, when I help ex-Swartzentrubers get their birth certificate and/or Social Security number, it can be a challenge because most have no medical records. Not that I care but, the Social Security Administration office asks for "proof" of U.S. citizenship citing one form is: a medical record.
Historically, in the early 1950s many Amish were immunized same as non-Amish kids because of the horrid polio epidemic. Those were some scary days and parents felt helpless. I remember my mom taking me to a community center where lines of parents and kids awaited their polio vaccination.

Presently, a couple gals who grew up Amish in Iowa said that immunizations didn't happen . . . unless there was a contagious outbreak such as whooping cough, then the Health Department became involved and those under 16-y/o received the immunization. This interests me because whooping cough is a three-part series. 

Any child without all three shots is still susceptible to the infection. Hope those Amish parents insured their children got the entire series.

Among those who don't, when individuals leave, I've found they continue the mindset and don't immunize their babies. I've chatted with many ex-Amish moms who were raised without vaccines and won't vaccinate their babies even as English. They believe vaccines "do more harm than good."

Other former-Amish said the majority in their church did get shots, which seems supported by this article on The Panic Virus quoting a Reuters research in Holmes County, Ohio.

Numerous debates exist and are documented between Amish and English doctors about the need for vaccinations. The study's conclusion said, "The reasons that Amish parents resist immunizations mirror reasons that non-Amish parents resist immunizations." So I think it's not a culture thing as much as it's a parenting thing.
What do you think? Leave your comment below.

(c)Copyright 2013, Brenda Nixon.


  1. I have friends that refuse to vaccinate their children, and it's not due to any religious beliefs. It's just personal choice. However, I also know some that don't vaccinate due to religious beliefs. I think that's the case with the Amish as well. Some do and some don't. I just don't know what percentage does & what percentage doesn't or the reason for their choice.
    The Panic Virus mentioned something about less autism among the Amish & a correlation to non-vaccination. I'm wondering whether or not it's been substantiated. Do you know,Brenda?
    Also, I so do not understand Social Security's need for medical records as proof of citizenship. That's a new one for me.

    1. I was talking with bro/sister Monroe & Sarah yesterday; neither had any immunizations from growing up Amish. As a consequence, Sarah at age 4 had whooping cough. Monroe also caught it. Fortunately, they're alive as this can be fatal.

      Sarah said her dawdy (grandpa) died as a result of measles. I understand people's caution and right to refuse immunizations however it's a shame when preventable diseases take away our loved ones.

      "MONROE ON THE RUN, part I" is the past post you're referring to in your SS & citizenship question. I'm still scratching my head in confusion over that one, too. Perhaps because Monroe never had a birth certificate & received one at age 17 after he left Amish, did the SS agent feel a need to prove his citizenship. Perhaps it varies from office to office and how anal-retentive the agent is.

    2. The Panic Virus mentioned something about less autism among the Amish & a correlation to non-vaccination: there is no scientifically proof about it.

    3. Anonymous, thank you for your feedback. This brings me to another question. Has there been any reason found for why autism rates among the Amish are less? I've not found it, but perhaps you have information on this.

  2. I consider myself an educated mother and pay close attention to all vaccinations. There are many books about the pros and cons of vaccination, the best of which is "What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Children's Vaccinations" by Stephanie Cave, M.D., F.A.A.F.P. with Deborah Mitchell. The book reviews each vaccination, its origin, chemical constituents and its respective pros and cons. I do NOT simply agree with the doctor on every vaccination they recommend simply because they are a doctor (who is heavily influenced by the drug companies). I review each recommended vaccination and determine its applicability to our situation. For example, I find no reason why the medical profession ~10 years ago was pushing the Hepatitis B vaccination for every child -- a vaccine that was created for intravenous drug users, sexually promiscuous persons and mothers infected with hepatitis B. I don't believe my newborn baby daughter fit ANY of those categories and yet the hospital insisted on giving her the vaccine. Ten years later they have stopped such an insane practice. While I agree that vaccinations have helped quite a lot, we shouldn't assume all vaccinations are necessary or even helpful. But, explaining this to someone from a culture against all vaccinations would be a challenge.

  3. Agreed. Thanks for your comments. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) changes - and has changed - its mind through the years about vaccines; my pediatrician once told me it drives doctors nuts. LOL