That proponents of anthroposophic medicine have strange attitudes towards established and effective immunizations is hardly a secret. The authors of this review defined anthroposophic communities as people following some/certain views more or less loosely connected to the philosophies of anthroposophy. Their systematic review firstly collated evidence documenting outbreaks linked to anthroposophic communities.
A total of 18 measles outbreaks occurred between 1997 and 2011 in European countries. Eight out of 18 measles outbreaks started at Waldorf schools throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, and the UK. Although data from community reporting was limited, the measles cases at Waldorf schools were predominantly higher than in mainstream private or state schools across the five countries. Offering measles vaccination catch-ups by public health authorities (which is an effective way to manage a measles outbreak) was described in several articles but was largely refused by both parents and Waldorf schools. The most effective outbreak control strategy was the immediate closure of the Waldorf school and strict rules regarding entry to the school upon reopening.
Secondly, the review summarized the literature on vaccination coverage in anthroposophic communities. Six articles described vaccine coverage in anthroposophic communities, and one article described the personal belief exception (PBE) rate at Waldorf school in the USA. The papers focussed predominantly on diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and poliomyelitis (DPTP), and mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccines. Two studies studying the vaccination coverage at Waldorf pre-schools/schools, demonstrated overall low immunization coverage at those schools. One article focusing on PBE rates demonstrated a proportionally high rate at Waldorf schools in California. Three studies from the Netherlands measure vaccination coverage in general and focussed specifically on whether there were special groups that showed specifically low coverage. In these studies, anthroposophic communities were identified as showing low coverage. However, one study suggested that anthroposophic communities are not as significant in terms of low coverage as low-income groups. One paper described rates of vaccination refusal in Switzerland. It showed that complementary alternative medicine users, including people who draw on anthroposophic medicine, are more likely to refuse vaccination. However, the paper also shows that this group was more likely to vaccinate against tick-borne diseases and encephalitis than the general population.
Thirdly, the review discussed the literature that summarized theories and factors influencing vaccine decision-making in anthroposophic communities. Eight articles examining factors and theories influencing vaccine decision-making in anthroposophic communities were included. Five articles focused on parents of children attending Waldorf schools or who considered themselves part of an anthroposophic community. Three articles focused on the perspectives of anthroposophic healthcare providers, although two of those articles mixed and compared views with other alternative/complementary providers or allopathic health providers. Of the eight articles, two were quantitative and did not provide an in-depth discussion. The qualitative findings from six articles were summarized in-depth and revealed four themes.
The authors concluded that this systematic review showed that there have been several measles outbreaks linked to anthroposophic communities in Europe. Although studies on vaccination coverage in anthroposophic communities are limited, it appears that coverage is lower than in the general population. Monitoring outbreak numbers and vaccination coverage could be important. Popular beliefs about the anthroposophic communities’ vaccination beliefs are challenged in this review. As the evidence shows the communities are not categorically against vaccines. Moreover, there are a myriad of factors that influence vaccine decision-making of parents belonging to an anthroposophic community. The importance of experiencing childhood illnesses and concerns over long-term side effects were mentioned. Moreover, parents want to be able to individually select vaccines for their children. They consider themselves actively engaged in vaccine decision-making and well-informed. Stigma regarding vaccine choices was mentioned repeatedly mostly by people outside of the anthroposophic community but also by people within the community. This review calls for a better understanding of vaccine choices and beliefs for vaccines beyond MMR, in particular HPV vaccines. The review also highlights a potentially important research gap, which constitutes understanding not only a belief system but the role that stigma may play in making decisions about vaccines.
If you ask where this strange anti-vaccination stance of anthroposophic medicine comes from, you don’t need to look far:
“In the future, we will eliminate the soul with medicine.
Under the pretext of a ‘healthy point of view’, there will be a vaccine by which the human body will be treated as soon as possible directly at birth,
(1) so that the human being cannot develop the thought of the existence of soul and Spirit.
To materialistic doctors, will be entrusted with the task of removing the soul of humanity.
As today, people are vaccinated against this disease or disease, so in the future, children will
(2) be vaccinated with a substance that can be produced precisely in such a way that people, thanks to this vaccination, will be immune to being subjected to the “madness” of spiritual life.
He would be extremely smart, but he would not develop a conscience, and that is the
(3) true goal of some materialistic circles.
With such a vaccine, you can easily make the etheric body loose in the physical body.
Once the etheric body is detached, the relationship between the universe and the etheric body would become extremely unstable, and man would become
(4) an automaton, for the physical body of man must be polished on this Earth by spiritual will.
So, the vaccine becomes a kind of arymanique [Ahrimanic] force; man can no longer get rid of a given materialistic feeling.
(5) He becomes materialistic of constitution and can no longer rise to the spiritual “.