George Longenecker: Anti-vaxxer cadre giving chiropractic a bad name

This commentary is by George Longenecker of Middlesex, who has retired from Vermont Technical College, where he taught writing, geography and environmental issues. 

For years, I’ve received effective and necessary chiropractic care for ongoing back problems. 

This fall, I received a call from my chiropractor’s assistant. The doctor had Covid, and I had been exposed six days earlier during an appointment. I asked if he had been vaccinated. His assistant said he had not. 

My chiropractor had not disclosed that he was unvaccinated. At the appointment, he wore no mask and took no Covid precautions. I was lucky and tested negative, but the incident necessitated my wife and a friend, who we’d seen the week of the ill-fated appointment, also getting tested. I wondered about the perspective of chiropractic on vaccination. 

It turns out that there’s been a lot written recently on this issue. 

In October, The Associated Press published an article headlined “Anti-vaccine chiropractors rising force of misinformation.” It said: “At a time when the surgeon general says misinformation has become an urgent threat to public health, an investigation by The Associated Press found a vocal and influential group of chiropractors has been capitalizing on the pandemic by sowing fear and mistrust of vaccines. … 

“Public health advocates are alarmed by the number of chiropractors who have hitched themselves to the anti-vaccine movement and used their public prominence and sheen of medical expertise to undermine the nation’s response to a Covid-19 pandemic. …”

Also in October, The Guardian published “Anti-vaccine chiropractors capitalizing on Covid and sowing misinformation,” in which it said: “A vocal minority tout their supplements as alternatives, donate large sums of money to anti-vaccine organizations and sell anti-vaccine ads on Facebook and Instagram. …” 

The same month, Forbes asked, “Are chiropractors backing the anti-vaccine movement?” It reported that many chiropractors are, and went on to say: “The benefits of vaccines seem to far outweigh potential risks. Nonetheless, wondering about vaccine safety is perfectly reasonable. Science, medicine and public health need to keep monitoring the safety of existing products and pushing for even safer products. Products can always get better. Science can always advance. A reasonable amount of skepticism can be healthy. 

“By contrast, the ‘anti-vaccine movement’ seems to include some organized attempts to present information not necessarily supported by science.” 

For years, chiropractic has helped me with muscular-skeletal problems. I’ve been able to lead an active life, free of pain well into my 70s. 

I now go to a new, more responsible chiropractor. However, I’ll go to my M.D. for advice on vaccine, disease and immunology. It distresses me that a profession that has done me and many others so much good has allowed a minority of its practitioners to go off on a tangent of misinformation. 

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Tags: anti-vaccine, chiropractic, George Longenecker

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