Naturopaths, chiropractors lag behind other health professionals in vaccination rates

The B.C. government has revealed the vaccination rates among different health professions, though letting the public know which individual service providers have their shots will be much more complicated.

Officials shared data on 18 of the province’s 19 health colleges Tuesday, confirming that overall, 94 per cent of members have been vaccinated – a proportion in line with the general population.

Physicians and surgeons, dieticians, and occupational therapists are at the high end, with rates as high as 98 per cent.

At the bottom of the list, with rates below the average for the general population, are naturopaths, chiropractors and those practicising traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncturists. Only 69.2 per cent of naturopathic physicians have been vaccinated.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters that vaccination has been crucial in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

"I cannot imagine where we'd be if we had not stepped up across this province,” Henry said, while thanking everyone who “did their bit by getting vaccinated.”

Asked about what may account for the differences among health professions, Henry responded, "Some people have been reluctant or slow to respond to the colleges' need for this information so it's probably an underestimate.”

“We know that some regulated health professionals have views about the vaccination,” she added.

Data from the College of Nurses and Midwives is not yet available because of how many people need to be accounted for.

The challenge in letting patients know who has their two doses and who hasn’t primarily has to do with privacy. Henry said talks are underway with the colleges to figure out next steps.

"There are ethical principals around protection of privacy that are very very important, and there are principals around patient safety that trump everything," she added.

Rates of vaccination among health professionals, according to the Ministry of Health, are as follows:

  • Naturopathic physicians, 69.2 per cent
  • Chiropractors, 78.1 per cent
  • Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists, 79 per cent
  • Massage therapists, 87.9 per cent
  • Dental technicians, 90.7 per cent
  • Audiologists/hearing instrument practitioners, 91.9 per cent
  • Dental hygienists, 92.6 per cent
  • Dental assistants, 92.8 per cent
  • Denturists, 92.9 per cent
  • Speech language pathologists, 92.9 per cent
  • Opticians, 94.9 per cent
  • Physical therapists, 95.2 per cent
  • Dentists, 95.9 per cent
  • Optometrists, 96 per cent
  • Psychologists, 96.1 per cent
  • Pharmacists, 96.7 per cent
  • Pharmacy technicians, 96.8 per cent
  • Occupational therapists, 96.9 per cent
  • Dieticians, 98 per cent
  • Physicians and surgeons, 98 per cent