The German paper DIE ZEIT reported about the dire state of the pandemic in Upper Bavaria. In the district of Rosenheim (close to where I grew up), only about 58% of the population are fully vaccinated, far less than the German average.
The article blames a broad distrust in conventional medicine, the media, and politics. And a pronounced tendency to look for alternatives. Nowhere in Bavaria are there as many Heilpraktiker as in Upper Bavaria. Heilpraktikers are not medical practitioners, they focus on so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and do not have to prove that they can effectively treat patients, even if that is what the name suggests. “That seems to be a cultural factor in the region. They are already pretty much in their own soup here,” says the director of the local hospital, Jens Deerberg-Wittram. There is much skepticism towards everything that comes from above and a pronounced interest in SCAM in the region, he says.
The gradient runs from north to south through Bavaria. With Heilpraktiker as well as with vaccination. The higher the density of Heilpraktiker, the lower the uptake of immunizations. This is just as true for Corona as for vaccination in general. For measles, the figure for fully vaccinated children in 2019 was 92.3 % in Germany, but in Rosenheim, it was only 83.3 %. “These are all ingredients for the big Corona cake,” says Deerberg-Wittram.
In Rosenheim, vaccination takes place in the local Volkshochschule, the German institution of adult education (as DER SPIEGEL disclosed [with my help] in 2018, these institutions are deeply steeped in woo and the Volkshochschule in Rosenheim even offers a course led by a Heilpraktiker). Although there is only a small, inconspicuous sign in the window outside of the Volkshochschule in Rosenheim, the queue of people wanting to be vaccinated is long. It stretches across the entire first floor; above the heads of the waiting people, the courses on offer flicker on a monitor: Crochet and knitting in the sewing room, integration courses, language courses in English and Spanish at different levels. Yoga for the elderly, Tai Chi.