Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Chiropractors v. Vaccination

Tuesday, Jun. 07, 2005

Chiropractors v. Vaccination
Some in the profession take on those who argue that the practice doesn't work


Polio is back with a vengeance, especially in backward countries where vaccinations are often regarded with suspicion. In Nigeria, for example, polio vaccinations were halted by government authorities in 2003 and 2004 after rumors spread that vaccines were instruments of a Western and Zionist plot to sterilize Muslim women and to hasten the spread of AIDS.

That's ridiculous, of course, and it couldn't happen here. Or could it? Despite the fact that vaccination has saved untold millions of lives, many Americans are being advised to avoid it on grounds as false as those rumored in Nigeria. Critics here charge that it is largely responsible for increases in such disorders as asthma, autism, juvenile diabetes and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That advice, unfortunately, is being dispensed to patients by chiropractors, far too many of them. How many? Several studies have shown that a solid minority of chiropractors are against vaccinations. One survey of chiropractors in Alberta, Canada, found that 27.2 percent of them encouraged or advised their patients against having themselves or their children vaccinated.

Chiropractors are accustomed to, and generally ignore, such criticism from the medical profession. In fact, the International Chiropractors Association sells a book entitled Vaccination: 100 Years of Orthodox Research Shows that Vaccines Represent a Medical Assault on the Immune System.

But now a small number of gutsy chiropractors are themselves speaking out against anti-vaccination doctrine. Writing in a recent issue of Dynamic Chiropractic, for example, chiropractors Stephen Perle and Randy Ferrance are harshly critical of their "zealously anti-vaccination" counterparts. They note that "the level of fervor within this subset of the profession is extremely high... similar to the level of fanaticism one sees in some religious meetings."

The authors take issue with their profession's authorities, such as the World Chiropractic Alliance, which claims that chiropractic "adjustments" have a positive impact on the immune system. That implication is clear; vaccines can be replaced by adjustments. "We are not aware," Perle and Ferrance protest, "of a single well-controlled study which found that chiropractic care prevented any infectious disease or reduced the severity of such a disease." Claiming that it can, they charge, is either "scientific misconduct, error or willful ignorance."

Going further, the two question the ethics of chiropractors who warn their patients about the danger of vaccinations, which in extremely rare cases can indeed cause serious side effects, but are silent about the risks of manipulation of the neck This technique causes strokes in perhaps one in 100,000 patients, the authors estimate, and this fact should also be disclosed. "What is good for the goose," they conclude, "is good for the gander."

Both endorse the guidance of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario, which in its Standard of Practice, states "Chiropractors may not, in their professional capacity express views about immunization/vaccination as it is outside their scope of practice." That's sound advice that all chiropractors would do well to follow.