Steiner, Karma, and Unvaccinated Communities

One of the side effects of Steiner Free school in Stroud would be a higher proportion of unvaccinated children in the area.

The British Humanist Association pointed out in an article last year that the Health Protection Agency regards Steiner schools as unvaccinated communities. They say; “membership or contact with an unvaccinated community (including Steiner schools, travelling families etc) increases the index of suspicion” when identifying suspected measles cases.

Steiner families point to worries about side effects of vaccination, the notion of the process being unnatural, or a suspicion that it is some kind of mainstream medicine “trick” to fool them into putting their child at risk for the benefit of the wider community.

These views prevail in the Steiner community because they fit in with Steiner’s ideas on karma, as discussed previously.

In “Manifestations of Karma” lecture 8 Steiner gave the following pronouncement, which proponents adhere to today;

We also understand why, among the best minds of our period, there exists a kind of aversion to vaccination… This would constitute the indispensable counterpart without which we are performing only half our task. We are merely accomplishing something to which the person in question will himself have to produce a counterpart in a later incarnation. If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity”

The anthroposophists in Steiner schools do not make clear that this is their reason for objecting, and parents who live the Steiner lifestyle are happy to go along with the ostensibly non-anthroposophical ideas, in preference to the so-called materialism of scientific understanding on medical matters.

Roger Rawlings explains the Steiner education attitude to immunization and discusses the consequences of medical neglect.

Parents signing up for Steiner schools may not initially be aware that they will be expected to place their child’s health in the hands of an anthroposophical doctor.

Unlike the US where families must vaccinate unless there are applicable exemptions in their state from doing so, in the UK it is entirely the choice of individual parents. Campaigns run to encourage parents to vaccinate their children, but ultimately it is for everyone to decide for themselves what is best for their child. This system appeared to be working reasonably well until the (untrue) story of a connection between the MMR and Autism and bowel disease sent percentages plummeting, and we are still recovering from this event.

The US system is interesting, where reasons for exemption may be religious, medical or philosophical. To qualify for religious exemption you must be a member of a “bonafide” religion (!) and you may have to prove your religious beliefs in a court of law…

(There is a map showing the exemptions in the various states, and an explanation of each kind of exemption on a site urging people to campaign for more exemptions, if you are interested.)

The protection a community gains from a high vaccination rate is hugely beneficial as illustrated by the US government website  and vulnerable members of any community will be at risk if uptake dips below a certain level.

The  Anti-Vaccine Body Count website  gives a running total of the numbers of deaths and illnesses which could have been prevented by immunisation.

Whether or not anthroposophy would be considered a bonafide religion should that ever be a valid excuse for not vaccinating in the UK is debatable.

The way anthroposophy will affect public health in a town where a Steiner Free school opens must surely be taken into account when the decision is made on high about whether such a school is needed or wanted.




  1. fungalspore

    The one benefit of Steiner non-vaccination is that there are large enough communities to prove statistically that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. This should mean that they would drop their opposition to vaccines on those grounds, but well…

  2. Helen

    Although the schools say they have officially no policy on vaccination, it would be an unusual Steiner parent who went against what almost everyone else in the school “community” thought was right, especially of course the school anthroposophical doctor, who will be a Steiner disciple and as such a believer in karma.
    The Steiner community have their own set of values and customs that they view as superior to everyone else’s, and these are what help to set them apart from people on the “outside”. Other such preferences being no plastic toys, no black crayons, no sweets, no books at a young age, no tv, no computers…

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