Friday, February 3

Alpthal, the Swiss town with 600 neighbors and no vaccinated

Alpthal is a Swiss town in the canton of Schwyz, about a thousand meters above sea level and with just over six hundred inhabitants. It has spectacular views of the Alps, a cable car to the Brunni ski resort and is part of one of the European routes of the Camino de Santiago. It also has a more recent peculiarity that has brought its name to the front pages of the Swiss press: none of its inhabitants are vaccinated and all of them are proud of their resistance to immunization. The Swiss nickname the locals as «lthe coronavirus rebels».

Since the vaccine became available, none of the inhabitants of Alpthal requested it. The doctors

who usually attend the locality ensure that they have recommended it, especially to patients at risk and the elderly, but to no avail. The entire town distrusts the vaccine, to the point that the health authorities included the town in the vaccination program carried out by buses, turned into vaccination centers on wheels and that go to vaccinate the most remote corners of the country. But it was of no use. When the bus arrived in town, Mayor Adelbert Inderbitzin came to the square and spoke on behalf of the locals, with a short but forceful phrase: «Go back where you have come. There is no need for vaccines here. ‘

For Mayor Inderbitzin, one thing is for sure: Anyone who wants to get vaccinated can do so in neighboring Einsiedeln. “The vaccination bus would stop in our town and wait for hours without anyone coming to see it,” his attitude argued, “I saved them more waiting time because I knew no one would come». “Millions are being wasted on this vaccination campaign! It is useless for this bus to approach us if we have made it clear that we do not want to be vaccinated, “diagnoses the bartender at the local bar, justifying the mayor. “Anyone who wants to be vaccinated has already done so and if we have not been vaccinated, it is because we did not want to.” The media has rushed to the scene, to find out the cause of such fierce resistance and later writing about the “Gallic people of the pandemic”, alluding to the popular Asterix and Obelix.

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65% of vaccinated

Relatively broad resistance to the vaccine exists throughout Switzerland. Only 65% ​​of the Swiss are fully vaccinated, but the case of Alpthal, in which resistance reaches 100% of the population, is unique. In the canton of Schwyz the vaccination rate is 57%. “There are a lot of skepticism about vaccinesespecially in the inland and eastern cantons, ”explains Swiss Political Science Professor Marc Bühlmann, who runs the Année Politique Suisse online platform. The phenomenon is not new: even when the Swiss voted on a tuberculosis vaccine in the 19th century, such trends emerged, he recalls, hypothesizing a kind of “historical skepticism about vaccination.” Schwyz is, however, the “canton of no.” “There, concerns about the authorities in the capital are often particularly great.”

The fact that all the inhabitants of this mountain town have rejected the vaccine has caused disappointment among the health authorities. “You always hear that it’s about people’s freedom. If you value the personal freedom, then you should let the residents decide for themselves, “an employee of the Schwyz Health and Social Affairs Office complains to the newspaper” Luzerner Zeitung, astonished by the fact that “some believe that they make a political statement accepting or rejecting the vaccine”

According to the political scientist Michael Hermann, who runs the Sotomo research center and teaches at the Institute of Geography at the University of Zurich, there is a division between urban and rural areas when it comes to confidence in vaccines. “Scientific skepticism is more widespread in rural areas and there is a belief that vaccines are more for effeminate city dwellers,” he says. “Many have stable positions. Changing your mind again now would amount to a kind of smear, “he says, suggesting that anonymous vaccination offers make more sense:” Then, at least, you can get vaccinated in secret. ” And so do the inhabitants who respond to random phone calls, in which they anonymously confess that there are neighbors who have gone to vaccinate in nearby towns, something they do not approve of. “We are all very healthy here, with clean mountain air, and if someone is cowardly does not dare to say it out loud, so they go to Iberg or Gross, but in a small town everything ends up knowing and commenting”, says a middle-aged woman who answers the phone in a mountain lodge.

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