British Columbia’s chiropractors have found themselves at the centre of the debate over vaccine mandates, following an eyebrow-raising vote earlier this week.
At Wednesday’s annual general meeting of the B.C. College of Chiropractors, the body that regulates and licences the profession, a resolution opposing provincial vaccine mandates won the support of 78 per cent of delegates.
The non-binding resolution, submitted by Kelowna chiropractor Mark Foullong, called on the college to “take a stand to protect the right to medical freedom of choice” and “maintain the right to choose medical privacy … free of coercion, manipulation of mandates.”
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While B.C. has not yet mandated vaccines for chiropractors, that is expected to change soon.
The province has already made vaccination against COVID-19 a condition of employment for doctors, nurses and staff in long-term care, and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued an order that will eventually extend that requirement to all other licensed health-care professionals.
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Chiropractors opposing a vaccine mandate have gained international attention, including the support of a U.S. group called the Chiropractic Defense Council, which says it’s hired a lawyer to submit a “notice of liability” against the B.C. government on the matter.
On Friday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said comments at the meeting questioning the science behind vaccines were “disappointing and wrong,” adding there would be no leeway for chiropractors.
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“There’s no question that the resolution reflects the views of those chiropractors who showed up at the meeting — I don’t believe they reflect anything like the majority of chiropractors,” Dix said.
“They have been consistent, passionate supporters of immunization, and a strong part as a community of health-care professionals of our efforts to immunize people. There are some people who disagree, and their views were put forward at that meeting.”
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The college’s board has since distanced itself from the motion.
In a statement, it said it was concerned about “inaccurate and misleading information about COVID-19 vaccination” presented at the meeting, adding that as licensed health-care professionals, chiropractors’ “ethical and professional responsibility is to provide information that is factual, backed by science and directly related to their scope of practice.”
“The prevention and treatment of infectious disease is not within the scope of chiropractic practice, and therefore, chiropractors must not provide any professional advice or counselling to patients in relation to vaccination issues,” the college said.
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A statement sent to Global News from the board of directors said:
“The BCCA represents 85 per cent of chiropractors practicing in B.C., and the views expressed at the CCBC AGM are not representative of the association. Of the over 1,300 licensed chiropractors in British Columbia, less than 15 per cent of registrants were present at the CCBC AGM.
“We are confident that the vast majority of our members understand the importance of protecting their patients from COVID-19 infection, as evidenced by their diligent adherence to safety protocols and the fact that there are virtually no cases of COVID-19 transmission linked to chiropractic clinics in British Columbia.”
The statement continued, saying the “BCCA board of directors appreciates and fully supports the efforts of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix as they navigate the province of B.C. through this global health crisis.”
While it’s not clear when the province will extend its vaccine mandate for health-care workers to chiropractors, once it does, practitioners who refuse vaccination could face licence suspension.
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