Amish people do get vaccinated

24 July 2023
What was claimed

The Amish are an unvaccinated population.

Our verdict

Vaccine uptake in Amish communities may be lower than the US national average, but significant numbers do vaccinate their children for some diseases.

What was claimed

The Amish do not use GMO crops.

Our verdict

Significant numbers of Amish farmers use GMO seeds.

What was claimed

There is no autism or sudden infant death syndrome in Amish communities.

Our verdict

This is not true. Both have been reported.

The Amish are the healthiest people in the Western world.
No vaxx, no masks, no GMO, no TV
No autism, no myocarditis, no SIDS, no SADS, no ADHD

The founder and leader of the Heritage Party, David Kurten, made several false claims about the health of Amish people in a widely shared tweet that has been viewed over 3.5 million times. 

Many Amish people are vaccinated against various diseases. Some also use GMO (genetically modified) seeds. 

Similar claims about the Amish have previously been fact checked by the Associated Press.

Full Fact has contacted David Kurten but no response has been received as of the time of writing.

Myocarditis, sudden infant/adult death syndrome (SIDS and SADS) are often involved in false claims related to vaccines. Vaccine misinformation can harm health, as people may make decisions based on false claims

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The Amish lifestyle and technology

The Amish are Christian religious communities with settlements in the US and Canada. They generally live “traditional” farming lifestyles, and they do indeed generally reject television.

However, the claim that they use “no GMO” seems to be false. For example, a 2022 study of 76 Amish corn farms found that just under 40% used GMO seeds in 2019, down from almost half of them in 2011.

The Amish historically have also used vaccines.

Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health, previously told the Associated Press that “They do vaccinate at a lower rate than the general population, but they are far from an ‘unvaccinated’ population”. 

A 2011 study of Amish parents in Ohio found that 85% of those surveyed accepted some vaccines for their children. A 2021 study in the same settlement found vaccine acceptance had decreased, with 41% of respondents having vaccinated their children for some diseases.

We have not been able to find data showing what proportion of the total Amish population have been vaccinated at some point.

Autism and the Amish

We have not been able to find data showing the prevalence of autism in Amish people, but the evidence we have suggests that it does occur.

As described in a community note attached to the tweet, a 2010 study in Holmes County and a settlement in Indiana found an autism rate of 1 in 271 children—lower than the national rate at the time, but not zero.

We have not been able to find reliable data on the rates of ADHD, myocarditis and SADS among the Amish.

However, SIDS sadly does sometimes occur. A report in 2004 documented 21 cases in nine Amish families and received wide press coverage.

Featured image courtesy of TheCadExpert

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