This vocal fringe is way out of their lane.
I was yet again dismayed by the vocal fringe of my profession today when I read this piece earlier. As a chiropractor myself, practicing throughout the pandemic, I’ve had to field many questions from concerned patients of mine about COVID and the vaccines.
Should I get the shot?
Are you going to get vaccinated?
What if I get the shot and it makes me infertile?
Don’t Take the Bait
As a licensed health care professional, I face challenges treating patients which will sound familiar to anyone in healthcare. One challenge I face as a chiropractor which differs from many other providers is I do not prescribe or recommend medications.
I have nothing personal against medications, and use Ibuprofen myself for aches and pains, am a hopeless caffeine addict, and have needed a course of antibiotics more than once or twice in my life (thanks a lot, ticks of New England).
Now some of my patients assume that I can write prescriptions, and I am quick to point out that I will happily prescribe them exercise programs, vitamins, dietary supplements, and order special tests or imaging studies or make a specialist referral to assist in their recovery from injury or in the pursuit of their health goals. However, I do not prescribe medications, or advise my patients on proper use of medications, or take my patients off of their medications. Because, duh, that is medicine and I don’t practice medicine.
Stay in Our Lane
I am not going to risk my career by practicing medicine without a medical license. Our lane as chiropractors is not to tell our patients what NSAID we like the best, why they shouldn’t be on their asthma inhaler, or whether we think vaccinations alter our DNA (they don’t, but thanks for that one Dr. Christiane Northrup)
Why some of my colleagues believe it is appropriate to offer medical advice without a medical license is baffling to me, as a popular refrain uttered by this same fringe towards myself and my more evidence or science oriented peers is, “If you want to ___________ you should have gone to medical school instead of becoming a chiropractor.” Fill in the blank with: diagnose, treat, give exercises, etc. — basically anything besides adjust the spine. Yet somehow these same chiros have no qualms about discussing vaccines with their patients.
A Bright Spot
Thankfully, there is at least the knowledge that these loud and obnoxious deniers of sound public health policy, are a minority of the profession.
The purveyors of vaccine misinformation represent a small but vocal minority of the nation’s 70,000 chiropractors, many of whom advocate for vaccines. In some places, chiropractors have helped organize vaccine clinics or been authorized to give COVID-19 shots.¹
Just this week a new piece of research was published showing that this fringe group within the larger body of chiropractors may account for fewer than a quarter of all US chiropractors². In my opinion the percentage is still too high, but I am hopeful the numbers continue to shrink as more chiropractors embrace scientific methods and research.
- Gliedt, J.A., Perle, S.M., Puhl, A.A. et al. Evaluation of United States chiropractic professional subgroups: a survey of randomly sampled chiropractors. BMC Health Serv Res 21, 1049 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-021-07081-0