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Chiropractors aren't qualified to give COVID-19 vaccine advice, health experts warn

Last Updated Jul 15, 2021 at 11:13 am PDT

The Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Summary

'Chiropractic community has a long history of anti-vax rhetoric,' says health law expert

Health experts are concerned anti-vaccine perspectives shared in medical environment could slow herd immunity efforts

Canadian Chiropractic Association has declared vaccination 'safe and effective' public health practice

VANCOUVER (CITYNEWS) – Some chiropractic patients are getting more than a physical adjustment from their practitioners. They claim they’ve been given anti-vaccine advice about COVID-19.

Health experts say that’s been happening for years, long before the pandemic began.

“The chiropractic community has a long history of anti-vax rhetoric,” said Timothy Caulfield, a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy based in Alberta.

Jason Busse, an associate professor with McMaster University, says chiropractors aren’t qualified to give vaccine advice, but many still provide their patients with information, which can be harmful.

“Speaking as a chiropractor [myself], I would not go to myself for information on vaccines,” he said.

He says studies find up to 15 per cent of Canada’s 9,000 chiropractors subscribe to anti-vaccine beliefs.

Some posts on social media suggest their chiropractors have been giving out vaccine advice.

“Chiropractors in particular, unless they’ve taken it upon themselves to receive additional training, do not have expertise in vaccination,” Busse said, adding some chiropractors who are already against vaccines often find more support “in those echo chambers.”

The concern is sharing anti-vaccine perspectives in a medical environment could slow efforts to reach herd immunity.

In 2019, the Canadian Chiropractic Association declared “vaccination is a safe and effective public health practice for the prevention of infectious diseases.”

“Members are encouraged to refer all patient questions, consultation and education regarding immunization and vaccinations to the appropriate public health authorities and/or health professional whose scope of practice includes vaccination.”

Caulfield agrees with the policy, but he says many people look at chiropractors as primary care physicians, “so they can have a great deal of influence over the decisions that individuals make.”

He is skeptical the industry will be able to break free form its historical roots.

“I hope that science wins out and I hope we see a profession that really embraces evidence-based approaches,” Caulfield said. “But we know from our own research that we’ve got a long way to go.”

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One chiropractor in Halifax surrendered her professional license in 2019, admitting to professional misconduct when she spread vaccine skepticism. At least one COVID-related complaint was settled against a chiropractor in Alberta last year.

Busse urges any patients who experience this kind of behaviour, to report it..