Chiropractor, naturopath & acupuncturist vaccination rates lagging far behind provincial averages

Naturopaths least vaxxed

Seventeen out of 18 professional colleges – the bodies responsible for licensing health professionals in B.C. – have disclosed the vaccination status of their practitioners and dieticians have come out on top.

No individual data was released to the public, but instead aggregate data shows the College of Dieticians has the highest vaccination rate in the province followed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons at 98 per cent.

The province’s health professionals have an overall vaccination rate of 93.9 per cent but no data regarding nurses was made available by provincial officials during a Tuesday briefing.

“This is because there are so many registrants,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “It was a lot more challenging than we initially thought.”

Chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopathic physicians, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists all have vaccination rates well below the provincial average of 92% for those aged 18+.

When asked about the lagging professions, Henry said she still hopes to see the rates rise.

"We only recently had alternatives to the mRNA vaccines available for some people and that's an important choice for some practitioners. So this will change over time," she said. "I hope that seeing this and seeing that the vast majority in every regulated health professional — it will be reassuring to people."

While a provincial vaccine mandate for healthcare professionals is no longer being considered, Henry was vague when asked what the province is planning on doing with the data they have collected.

She said they are weighing the balance of privacy rights of practitioners and transparency for patients.

"But the overriding public interest is patient safety," she said, adding that "trumps" everything.

"It is finding that balance... We've done it for, you know, surgeons who are affected with HIV, for example, people who have hepatitis. So we have models that we can use, and we're just working through how to do that."

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the newly-released data will likely generate debate in the professions with lower vaccination rates, because across the board, majorities have opted be be vaccinated.

"I'm sure this will be a subject of discussion amongst all of those as we seek to raise vaccination rates amongst every group in society," Dix said.

Meanwhile, fourth doses for the general population will not be deployed anytime soon. Ontario expanded eligibility for fourth doses last month to those 60 and older.

Instead, B.C. will be sending out invites in the coming weeks to those 70 and older.

“We’ve seen that there really is very good protection from three doses,” Henry said. “As we get older, our immune systems … fade away a little bit more quickly, so that’s where we’re targeting this fourth dose.”

The following lists each registrant group and the percentage of practising registrants who are vaccinated or medically exempt:

* chiropractors: 78.1%

* dental hygienists: 92.6%

* dental technicians: 90.7%

* dentists: 95.9%

* dental assistants: 92.8%

* denturists: 92.9%

* dieticians: 98%

* massage therapists: 87.9%

* naturopathic physicians: 69.2%

* occupational therapists: 96.9%

* opticians: 94.9%

* optometrists: 96.0%

* pharmacists: 96.7%

* pharmacy technicians: 96.8%

* physical therapists: 95.2%

* physicians and surgeons: 98.0%

* psychologists: 96.1%

* audiologists/hearing instrument practitioners: 91.9%

* speech language pathologists: 92.9%

* traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists: 79.0%

More BC News