The largest organization representing chiropractors in B.C. is condemning anti-vaccine statements made by some practitioners at a meeting of their professional regulator this week.
At Wednesday’s annual general meeting of the College of Chiropractors of B.C., 78 per cent in attendance voted in favour of a resolution to “maintain the right to medical freedom of choice” for chiropractors and called on the college to “take a stand” against an expected public health order mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all regulated health professionals.
Those who spoke in favour of the non-binding resolution claimed, without evidence, that the vaccines haven’t proven to be safe or effective.
Those statements were upsetting to Angie Knott, the executive director of the B.C. Chiropractic Association (BCCA), who attended Wednesday’s meeting.
“The BCCA was certainly appalled and disappointed at the misrepresentations made by that handful of chiropractors concerning the safety and science behind the COVID-19 vaccine,” she told CBC News.
“There were just falsehoods around the science and the efficacy of vaccines.”
The BCCA is a voluntary professional organization that Knott says counts 85 per cent of B.C. chiropractors among its members.
It has a documented history of working behind the scenes to stop chiropractors from spreading vaccine-related misinformation, including raising concerns about college board members with the provincial government.
“We know that immunization is a well-established and widely accepted public health policy to protect individuals against diseases, including COVID-19,” Knott said.
Despite some prominent cases of B.C. chiropractors discouraging vaccination long before the pandemic began, Knott maintains that anti-vaccine views are held by just a small number of practitioners.
When he was asked about the college meeting at a news conference Friday morning, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the views expressed by some chiropractors were “disappointing and wrong.”
“I don’t believe they reflect the views of anything like the majority of chiropractors,” Dix told reporters.
College shares concern about ‘inaccurate and misleading information’
According to college registrar Michelle Da Roza, Wednesday’s meeting was attended by 261 chiropractors out of 1,379 fully licensed and practising registrants in B.C.
A total of 173 voted in favour of the resolution to oppose mandated COVID-19 vaccines for their profession, representing just under 13 per cent of B.C. chiropractors.
Knott said that while she attended the meeting along with other representatives of the BCCA, she did not feel it was appropriate to comment on the resolution.
“It’s not our place to make decisions on mandates. That’s the purview of the provincial health officer and the minister, and we defer to them as the experts,” she said.
Her views are shared by the college, which posted a statement online Friday addressing the meeting. It also expressed concern over the “inaccurate and misleading information about COVID-19 vaccination” shared by some of the chiropractors who spoke.
“Regulated health professionals occupy a position of public trust due to their knowledge and training in a specific field of health. Their ethical and professional responsibility is to provide information that is factual, backed by science and directly related to their scope of practice,” the college statement says.
It goes on to stress that chiropractors aren’t trained in treating or preventing infectious disease and are forbidden from providing advice to patients about vaccination.
“The college recognizes that immunization through the technique of vaccination is well established and widely mandated in public health policy to protect individuals against infectious disease. We support and commend the efforts of the provincial health officer, the minister of health and the government to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our province,” the statement says.
The health ministry said earlier this week that an exact date for a vaccine mandate for health professionals to come into effect has yet to be determined.
COVID-19 vaccination is currently required for anyone working or volunteering at a health-care facility in B.C., but it does not cover professionals working in private practice.