Some in Amish community hesitant to get vaccinated
ELKHART COUNTY, Ind.-- Both Elkhart and LaGrange counties have the largest Amish settlement in the Hoosier state. Despite beliefs that the Amish face vaccine barriers due to a lack of internet access, that’s not necessarily the case.
Erik Wesner, founder of the website Amish America writes about everything Amish, from news stories, culture and more! Though Erik isn’t Amish himself, he’s studied Amish culture firsthand for the last 10 years, meeting and interviewing thousands to learn more about them. Now with the pandemic hitting, his blogs have turned a different route.
“You know you have people that have maybe observed the behavior of Amish people in some communities and have decided well that’s not...they’re breaking laws, they’re not wearing masks, they’re gathering when they’re not supposed to be gathering and those kinds of things,” Wesner said. “That definitely been a focus of like the coverage of the Amish over the past year.”
Indiana is home to America’s 3rd-largest Amish population, according to the Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies Association. Elkhart and LaGrange county in particular, home to around 26,000 Amish residents. This makes up more than a third of the highly rural LaGrange county’s population, many of which, don’t have access or use the internet.
“The Amish don’t really have; they don’t use public electricity and the internet and computer is not something you’ll really find in an Amish home,” Wesner said.
However, while many Amish don’t use technology as much, Wesner said they aren’t entirely shut out from the news and what’s going on in the community around them. Signing up to get a COVID-19 vaccine isn’t much of a barrier as one might think for this reason, it really all just comes down to their beliefs.
“It’s understood or felt that most of the Amish have already had Covid or had some exposure to it,” Wesner said. "If they don’t see there’s a need to do it, then I think that’s an even bigger thing that would be stopping them.”
Wesner said that it may take a little bit more to convince an Amish person to get vaccinated.
“The Amish tend not to vaccinated in the same degree that we do. Not talking about COVID, just talking about vaccines in general before COVID ever happened,” Wesner said. “Maybe getting the word about getting tested for antibodies for example, maybe at least that just to see hey let’s just confirm if we did, we think we did have it. That might be something to consider.”
LaGrange County Health Officer Dr. Pechin denied our request for an interview, but tells ABC57 the health department has visited their Amish community to educate and get the word out about the importance of getting inoculated.