It has been reported that an Australian naturopath would refuse entry to her business to anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two weeks. In her original Facebook post, Ms. Holland said that vaccinated people would have to wait a minimum of two weeks after vaccination before attending her clinic due to “the shedding of spike proteins” caused by “these experimental treatments”.
Christine Pope, who is on the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS) board of directors, said she believed the views shared by the Warrnambool naturopath were part of the alternative medicine sector’s “fringe” and didn’t represent the industry. “We’re always very careful to tell our practitioners about posting appropriately and within their scope of practice,” Ms. Pope said. “These sort of comments to me look like they’re outside their scope of practice. We do a lot of training about making sure that you’re posting appropriately within your scope of practice and about things about which you are qualified in. As an association supporting natural medicine practitioners, it’s not really our job to promote or comment on the vaccination program – we’re not public health experts … and this is really outside my scope of practice. But from a public health perspective (vaccination) is the best option we’ve got.”
Sharon Holland, who runs a clinic in Warrnambool, cited on Facebook a number of discredited medical professionals who have become figureheads of the anti-vax and COVID conspiracy movements, including Judy Mikovits, Robert Malone, Peter McCullogh, and J Bart Classen. “Often de-bunked and fact-checked (by whom) can mean silenced,” Ms. Holland wrote. “We still have free speech available to some extent. This is a very emotive and divisive subject so my post was bound to ‘ruffle feathers’.”
The ATMS says its accredited practitioners need to “stay within their scope of practice” and avoid posting about vaccines they haven’t studied. Ms. Pope urged people to lodge a complaint about bogus health claims through the ATMS website or the healthcare complaint commissioner in the appropriate state.
This course of events begs several questions. In my view, the most important are:
- Is Sharon Holland an exception, or are many/most naturopaths of her opinion?
- Instructing practitioners about “posting appropriately and within their scope of practice” sounds fine but might miss the point entirely. What really matters are the messages ATMS members orally convey to their patients. Is there any evidence on this issue?
- Surely, the anti-vax sentiments of naturopaths must originate from their education. Is there any evidence as to what they are taught about the subject?
- Is the ATMS going to take action against Ms. Holland and other members who endanger the public with their anti-vax stance?