Chiropractic self-regulatory body passes motion to oppose mandatory vaccines

A UBC nursing professor said the motion, which passed with a majority of the 261 members present at the AGM, shows what chiropractors do is not science-based but an alternative health practice

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The associations that regulate and represent chiropractors in B.C. are distancing themselves from a motion passed at an annual general meeting last week that opposed mandatory vaccination for the province’s almost 1,400 chiropractors.

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The motion was passed by a majority of chiropractors who attended the AGM of the self-regulatory B.C. College of Chiropractors.

The motion was introduced by Dr. Mark Foullong of Kelowna at the Dec. 1 meeting, which was attended by 261 members. Of those, 173 voted to “protect medical freedom of choice,” CBC News reported.

The motion passed, but it is non-binding. Chiropractors are not included in the province’s mandatory vaccination policy for health-care workers.

Foullong did not return phone messages or emails requesting comment.

The college registrar, Michelle Da Roza, said in an email that the chairman of the board for the college, Dr. Johnny Suchdev, declined comment.

In a prepared statement, the college said it is “concerned that statements made by some registrants” at the AGM contained “inaccurate and misleading information about COVID-19 vaccination.”

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It also said regulated health professionals have an “ethical and professional” responsibility to provide science-backed information within their scope of practice, and that the “prevention and treatment of infectious disease is not within the scope of chiropractic practice.”

The college recognizes that “vaccination is well-established and widely mandated in public health policy to protect individuals against infectious disease” and it supports public health orders, it said.

The B.C. Chiropractic Association released a similar statement, in which it said it was “disappointed and appalled at the misrepresentation of facts concerning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine by those speaking out against the expected vaccination mandate for regulated health professionals” during the college’s AGM.

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UBC nursing professor Bernie Garrett, who this year published a book on how to identify deceptive and unethical health marketing practices, said the passing of the motion shows that the college isn’t basing its policy on evidence-based research, and claims the professional body “is more interested in protecting its own members than the safety of the public.”

“This simply reinforces that chiropractors is not a science-based profession. It’s an alternative health practice,” he said.

And he noted that professional bodies’ inability to denounce anti-vaccine sentiments makes it “less likely they will become trustworthy.”

Angie Knott, executive director of the B.C. Chiropractic Association, of which 85 per cent of the province’s chiropractors are voluntarily a member, said the AGM vote does not represent the majority of chiropractors.

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“We do believe those we represent firmly support vaccination and evidence-based science” on immunization, she said.

She added that there are some chiropractors who don’t support vaccines because “there are outliers among chiropractors. I don’t think it’s unique” among professions and members of the public, she said.

She didn’t agree with Garrett’s view that the BCCA or the college protected its members over patients.

“That is not the case,” she said. “Public safety is our number-one concern.”

The BCCA website has on the home page a link to the Canadian Chiropractic Association, but that group’s position on vaccines is not easily located on its website.

Similarly, the BCCA information on vaccines is included under “About Us” and “Position Statement”. The section on “Vaccination and Immunization” says the BCCA “strongly supports preventive health care and the protection of individuals from the serious consequences of infectious disease. The BCCA supports that immunization is a well-established and widely mandated public health policy to protect individuals against infectious disease.”

The information doesn’t specifically reference COVID-19 because it was posted online in 2019, before the pandemic hit, said Knott.

“But it goes without saying that the COVID vaccination is included on there,” she said.

The vaccination posting for the Canadian Chiropractic Association was also posted in 2019, in response to federal Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam’s comments regarding a return of measles in Canada.

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