Should you vaccinate?


The risk of Autism argument is one parents in Steiner schools use to justify their decision not to vaccinate, but the real reason in Anthroposophy is that vaccination is believed to interfere with reincarnation; your child must suffer disease in order to progress to the next level of spiritual development.

Why Evolution Is True

The new measles outbreak in the U.S. has made many parents rethink their opposition to vaccination. To help them, The Nib provides a convenient flowchart (well, the bottom part doesn’t seem to go anywhere):

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 8.47.10 AM

h/t: jsp

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  1. we escaped!

    At the steiner school our son attended there were regular signs pinned up on notice boards advising that there were cases of measles at school.

    Children are permitted to attend school during these outbreaks. The outbreaks occur regularly and aren’t really considered a big deal by the school.

    Its communicated as if it were simply a case of headlice, rather than a fatal illness.

    The schools should be closed down on the grounds of health & safety and safeguarding.

  2. Helen

    Of course it is up to parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children, and indeed I exercised the right when ours were little, as the MMR Autism and bowel disease scare happened right at that time and we had a family reason to be worried. (I may have mentioned this before). They have since been vaccinated. But Steiner schools and “settings” are ” high risk communities” for potentially serious illnesses such as measles and whooping cough because of the spiritual reasons against vaccination in anthroposophy. The other day I talked to a few parents outside a local kindergarten who support the free school bid, and the difference is clear between the parents who are fully informed about anthroposophy and were not interested in hearing about concerns, and those who had never even heard of the word, never mind having any idea what it means. So they are going along with the prevailing lifestyle choices such as anti-vaccination, without even knowing the real reasons for this stance.
    It’s no wonder people get hurt.
    The Waldorf Review facebook page has several links to articles about vaccination and Steiner schools.

  3. Steve

    Whatever our position on the vaccination issue is, I hope most of us can agree that insulting the very people you’re trying to convince isn’t going to lead to any kind of positive outcome. I’m referring of course to that flowchart which is sadly reminiscent of so many conversations I’ve seen online where the pro-vaccers just berate, insult and ridicule those who have concerns about vaccinations.

    Considering we’re talking about the welfare of children, it’s quite amazing that pro-vaccers would think such a strategy would work. Don’t they have children themselves and know that this just never ever works?

    To drag this comment back to the world of Steiner, I remember being told of a meeting where staff and parents were discussing allergies and how dangerous a nut allergy could be. As an example, they described an event where a child with such an allergy had a reaction because a nut was on a table in a neighbouring room, and everybody listened and didn’t contradict that statement, but in fact took it very seriously. I did literally LOLd when I was told that!

    (although having a pro-active immune system would definitely have its advantages – what a shame God didn’t think of blessing us with one ;)

  4. Nick Nakorn

    The anti-vaccination campaigners are doing great harm. Though some critical rhetoric might be deemed unpleasant or rude, such criticism is needed. When Wakefield’s campaign was shown to be both fraudulent and wrong, it was the ethical duty of anti-vaccination campaigners to change their minds and get behind the public health imperative of maintaining ‘herd-immunity’. Here’s a timely piece by Rebecca Watson that puts it more eloquently:

    Yet there really should be no need for anyone to have to be promoting vaccination when the evidence in favour of the process is so abundant and overwhelming. The mystery is that there are still enclaves of people who seem to wish for a return to an era in which deadly as disabling diseases are as prevalent as they were 100 years ago. When I was a kid in the 1960s, it was commonplace to see (for example) Polio victims in leg irons or worse. Those advocating a return to a world without vaccination can not complain if some people address them rudely when there is such a serious issue at stake. That Anthroposophy should value death and disease so highly as a spiritual route to a better incarnation is simply indicative of their desire to pursue their crackpot religion at almost any cost.

    • Jim

      Totally agree Nick. What seems to be common to this and so many other religious prejudices is a bizarre willingness to devalue this, the only life for which we have any evidence, in favour of some imagined future life for which we have no evidence whatsoever. It’s the same mania which enables a priest ridden government in Ireland to allow a pregnant woman to die carrying a foetus which itself has no possibility of living.

    • Steve

      Hi Nick, I have no problem with criticism, but calling people “idiots” for instance, as this flow chart does, it far from productive.

      I also believe we may have got our wires crossed: I wasn’t referring to campaigners (you can never get those to change their point of view anyway), but to well-intentioned, but perhaps confused parents. Insulting them will only convince them that you’re not worth listening to and you may have lost them – and their children – forever. And if we want more people vaccinated, I believe that’s the wrong way to go about it.

      (oh and btw, I think “herd immunity” was an ill-considered name. Who wants to think of themselves as part of a herd anyway – well, if you’re not religious, that is. Someone once suggested “community-immunity”, which has the added advantage that it rhymes, and everyone knows that anything that rhymes must be true :)

      • Jim

        I doubt the flowchart was expected to persuade anyone – just a weak bit of humour, as seems to be the purpose of The Nib.

        Campaigners never change their mind? Jonathan Porritt and nuclear power! Terrible example I grant you – he’s one of prince Charles’s troupe of advisors, but it only takes one example to disprove a “never”.

        • Steve

          My cynical, shrivelled, calcified heart is warming up, hearing that a campaigner actually changed their mind on something. Of course, I should’ve conditioned my earlier statement with “in my experience”, eh? :)

          I don’t know The Nib so I didn’t realise this was supposed to be a joke because “in my experience”, this is the way vax campaigners often treat parents who don’t vaccinate – as I said originally. And when I see such attempts, I just feel my cynical, shrivelled, calcified heart harden a little more.

          • Jim

            Good job your heart is not a pump or calcification could be dangerous!

            Actually I see from today’s paper that the anti vax issue is blowing up again in the US where the originator of the “MMR causes autism” myth is still active despite being struck off the medical register here for fraud and malpractice.

      • Nick Nakorn

        Steve, I’ve been an (mostly environmental and racism issues) campaigner on and off since 1977 and have changed my mind many times. I think if one has an open mind and is interested in evidence rather than opinion, changing one’s mind is inevitable as one understands more about one’s subject. Also, the situations in which some policy decisions make sense change over time and require new or different solutions. I agree that ‘herd immunity’ is not a good phrase when applied to people but it is currently one that has a definition. My use of quotation marks initially was to point out I was using a term I am not wholly happy about. Anyway, we too are animals.

        • Steve

          Hi Nick.

          Having an open mind is a rare gift and I’m glad to hear you have one. I agree with everything you say.

          One little point re “herd”; of course we’re animals, but being part of a herd (or a flock) has a certain, thoughtless quality which (“follow the herd” springs to mind)… I’d bet net rested Tom now who came up with the term (I’ll google it later).

          In the meantime, i just read an article yesterday which is exactly what I’ve been talking about: “our top-down and adversarial approach further polarizes communities and actually alienates parents.”

          Glad to see others have been noticing the problem too :)

          Maybe I’m an idealist, but I believe that education and treating people with respect will win the day (isn’t that what the Golden Rule is all about?)

          • Helen

            It comes down to whether you trust medical science or not, and I am amazed at the number of people who do not on this issue. Do anti-vaxxers really think there is some conspiracy going on where doctors are not telling us the truth? All parents want what is best for their own child, but it seems so odd that they are willing to run the risk of complications from measles for example – deafness or blindness or brain damage. Without modern medicine where would we be?

        • Steve

          Bloody hell – autocorrect had a field day! :(

          I meant to day:… “I’d be interested to know who came up with the term (I’ll google it later).”

  5. Rain17

    SO WHAT if your child gets a preventable disease, or has to miss 3 weeks of school. We Waldorf Ubermenschen need our Lebensraum for our child’s Kingdom of Play! Can’t you just get the nanny to stay with them?


  6. Helen

    Replying to Steve above – yes that new link works, and it is a good article.
    “Efforts to identify factors that predict vaccine hesitancy have found that local social norms and interactions between patients and their providers are most important” – yes, and it’s easy to see how a “community” such as a Steiner school, or indeed even a whole town where there are a lot of Steiner organisations, could quickly come to see non-vaccination as normal.
    I don’t think you agree with me Steve, but the damage is done when anthroposophists in Steiner kindergartens and schools are not telling parents the real reasons why they are against vaccination. It suddenly puts a different complexion on the matter when you know it is to do with karma. The notice board outside the kindergarten near us regularly advertises talks on issues where the connection with anthroposophy would only be obvious to those parents who are informed about anthroposophy.
    As we have been saying, the indoctrination is so subtle, yet very effective.

  7. Jim

    A slight segue from the ant vax debate but a local Steiner anti vaxxer has written to the Stroud News and Journal claiming that there are now 25000 studies showing that wifi and 4G are unsafe. Gosh! Be afraid!

    Well, actually the WHO reports claims 25000 articles ( ie not necessarily proper studies ) and then say a review of them provides no evidence of harm. So half right. To be fair the report does advise limiting children’s use of mobiles as a precaution until further evidence is available but all the same it’s hardly to apocalyptic stuff the writer claims.

    Not so long ago she also wrote that the MMR vaccine causes autism, as proved by (ex)doctor Wakefield. Oh dear. Why are these people so keen to accept scientific evidence when it supports their own views ( eg global warming ) and trash it when it conflicts with their beliefs ( pretty much everything else )?

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