Have the Amish Reached Herd Immunity?

Photo courtesy @BrianWangenheim

Brittany James | Civil Patriot

An Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania may have reached herd immunity. 

The Amish of New Holland in Lancaster County have not had a case of COVID-19 in 6 weeks. Medical experts wonder if they are the first group in the U.S. to have reached herd immunity.

This close-knit community complied with original orders to shut down and stay at home in the spring of 2020. However, by late April that year, the community reopened and went about life as normal. They attended both school and church where they shared communion cups and greeted each other with holy kisses.

After resuming life’s normal routine without social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions, the infection spread through the community. Cases spiked.

Physician Assistant Pam Cooper said, “It was bad here in the spring; one patient right after another.” Pam works at the Parochial Medical Center in New Holland, PA which treats many in the Amish community. The Amish saw a spike of cases again in the fall. 

Allen Hoover, an administrator at the center said, “So, you would think if COVID was as contagious as they say, it would go through like a tsunami; and it did.” 

Overall, it’s estimated that 90% of the Amish families had someone infected. 

Experts’ estimate that for any group of people to reach herd immunity, at least 90% of the population would have to be infected. The Amish seemed to have achieved that threshold.

Those pushing for the new COVID-19 vaccine are skeptical and insist that lasting herd immunity can only be reached by a fully vaccinated population.

Alice Yoder, executive director of Community Health at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health said, “The only true herd immunity that we can bring as a community is for people to be vaccinated.”

Interestingly enough, the new COVID-19 vaccine is only 90% effective after both doses. 

Herd immunity in the Lancaster Amish group is great news. Consistent cases presented themselves for months throughout the group, and now there haven’t been any cases in a month and a half. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Dr. Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, predicted in February that we would reach herd immunity by April. 

However, according to Dr. Makary, “The consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since January 8, can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccinations rates were low, and they take weeks to kick in.”

So, between herd immunity obtained naturally and vaccinations received by those who want the new drug, there is hope for the near future to return to normal!



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