MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

During the last two years, I have written more often than I care to remember about the numerous links between so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy. For instance:

Whenever I publish a post on these subjects, some enthusiasts of SCAM argue that, despite all this evidence, they are not really against COVID vaccinations. But who is correct? What proportions of SCAM practitioners are pro or contra? One way to find out is to check how they themselves behave. Do they get vaccinated or not?

Here are some recent data from Canada that seem to provide an answer.

A breakdown of vaccination rates among Canadian healthcare professions has been released, based on data gathered from 17 of B.C.’s 18 regulated colleges. The findings are most revealing:

  • dieticians, physicians, and surgeons lead the way, with vaccination rates of 98%,
  • occupational therapists were at 97%,
  • Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists were at 79%,
  • chiropractors at 78%
  • naturopaths at 69%.

The provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province is still working with the colleges on how to notify patients about their practitioner’s vaccination status. “We are working with each college on how to build it into professional standards. The overriding principle is patient status,” she told a news conference. “It may be things like when you call to book, you are asked whether you would prefer to see a vaccinated or unvaccinated professional. We are trying to protect privacy and provide agency to make the decision.”

______________________

As far as I am aware, these are unique data. It would be interesting to see additional evidence. If anyone knows about vaccination rates in other countries of acupuncturists, herbalists, homeopaths, osteopaths, Heilpraktiker, etc. I would love to learn more.

16 Responses to Vaccination rates of Canadian healthcare professionals: those of chiropractors and naturopaths are at the lowest

  • Take their license.

    • now, now – what would the world do without chiros?

    • G. Almog wrote “Take their license.”

      On what grounds? Which regulators stipulate that being “vaccinated against COVID-19” is a requirement of their licensure of chiropractors; same for naturopaths?

      E.g., in the UK:

      Licence
      Register as a chiropractor

      Overview

      You must register with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) to practice as a chiropractor in the UK.

      You can only call yourself a ‘chiropractor’ if you’re registered with the GCC.
      https://www.gov.uk/register-chiropractor

      The General Chiropractic Council has issued the following Covid-19 vaccination statement to all registrants.

      The GCC does not make Covid-19 vaccination status a condition of registration, nor do we consider turning down the Covid-19 vaccination to be a fitness to practise matter.

      — GCC Covid-19 vaccination statement (2022-02-11)

  • Since when are SCAM practitioners “healthcare professionals”?

    • good question

    • My guess is that sometime in the past they managed to get the provincial government to give them this regulated status. That’s what happened with IIRC chiropractors in my province of Ontario back in the 1930s.

      It’s a matter of lobbying power not validity. Once the legislation is passed, government inertia and more lobbying keeps the legislation in place.

  • EE: The findings are most revealing:

    Not really. There are several factors that these percentages don’t account for.

    For example:

    some work as employees and their employer may have required them to be vaccinated.

    this report is on fully vaccinated which doesn’t necessary represent views on vaccination.

  • An alternative view of the data…

    Full list of not fully vaccinated rates by regulated profession:

    30.8% Naturopathic physicians
    21.9% Chiropractors
    21.0% Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists
    12.1% Massage therapists
    9.3% Dental technicians
    8.1% Audiologists/hearing instrument practitioners
    7.4% Dental hygienists
    7.2% Dental assistants
    7.1% Denturists
    7.1% Speech language pathologists
    5.1% Opticians
    4.8% Physical therapists
    4.1% Dentists
    4.0% Optometrists
    3.9% Psychologists
    3.3% Pharmacists
    3.2% Pharmacy technicians
    3.1% Occupational therapists
    2.0% Dieticians
    2.0% Physicians and surgeons

  • What proportions of SCAM practitioners are pro or contra? One way to find out is to check how they themselves behave. Do they get vaccinated or not? …
    Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists were at 79%,
    chiropractors at 78%
    naturopaths at 69%.

    So the great majority of even the TCM people, chiros and naturopaths did get vaccinated. Do these figures under-estimate or over-estimate the anti-vax views among them?
    The “false positives” for anti-vax views would be people who can’t get vaccinated for good medical reasons. That is rare, so many of the people who say they can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons are actually just expressing a fear about the vaccine. Like the person I talked to who said she was hesitant to get the Covid vaccine because she had a lot of allergies. I asked her if she’d ever had an anaphylactic reaction to anything – no. I asked her if she’d ever had a bad reaction to a vaccine; she said no, but she hardly ever got a vaccine. So she was anti-vax.
    Also some people might avoid getting a Covid vaccine because they’re afraid of getting sick after it. A lot of people who get it do feel somewhat sick for 2-3 days – it’s more liable to cause side effects than most other vaccines. So someone might avoid the Covid vaccine without being generally an anti-vaxxer.
    The “false negatives” would be people who get vaccinated but are anti-vaccine. These alt-med providers might get vaccinated because their patients often ask them about it, and their business would suffer if they didn’t. Probably they’d have less pressure to get vaxed than mainstream medicine providers, since their patients are more likely to be anti-vax. So that might partially account for fewer of them getting vaccinated. Or maybe their employers are less likely to pressure them to get vaxed than employers of mainstream medicine providers.
    So would the false positives or the false negatives be more common?

    • Robin H,

      So would the false positives or the false negatives be more common?

      For a study of this type I would expect the data to be incomplete. That is, only a proportion of each group will have completed the questionnaire or however the data were acquired. This will introduce non-systematic errors (i.e. random effects of sampling) and systematic errors due to unknown factors affecting both vaccination status and information about this status in the same direction. Depending on the proportion of respondents, the non-systematic errors may well be greater than the systematic errors such as those that you describe.

      For many types of data collection, and for real-life decisions, noise can have just as large an effect as bias, but people are less aware of it and therefore don’t take the same steps to eliminate it.

      • For a study of this type I would expect the data to be incomplete. That is, only a proportion of each group will have completed the questionnaire or however the data were acquired

        That too, and it probably explains part of the difference between the observed Covid vacc. rates for mainstream and alt-med providers – the mainstream medicine providers are more likely to feel they should be vaccinated than the alt-med providers, and that would bias the results.
        That bias is an effect of the subculture that people are in, like the false negatives.
        The things Dr. Ernst blogs about are so much about a certain problematic alt-med subculture, that also tends to be anti-vaccine. People get their opinions from the culture around them, a great deal.
        Covid vaccination rates vary a lot by region in the USA, too. I’ve even heard people who live in a conservative area in the USA saying online that they’re reluctant to get vaccinated because people around them would think badly of them.

  • Some info on Covid vaccination rates in the UK:

    Vaccine coverage was low in health associated professionals not elsewhere classified group (e.g. acupuncturists, homeopaths and hypnotherapists) and therapy professionals not elsewhere classified (e.g. art therapists, chiropractor, Cognitive behavioural therapist and dance movement therapists).

  • Any data for physiotherapists?

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