A Canadian doctor has been threatened with arrest after he posted a video suggesting fruit juices are more effective at preventing the flu than vaccines.
The video, posted last November by Avtar Jassal, vice-chair of B.C.’s chiropractic college, apparently violated the B.C. College of Chiropractors’ policy against providing advice on vaccination.
Now, Canadian officials want him disciplined.
Cbc.ca reports: Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told CBC that the college “should sanction him for making anti-vaccine comments and should remind him that it is not within his scope of practice to be doing that.”
She added, “I understand that a complaint has been made, and I expect and I’ll watch to make sure the college does take appropriate action.”
Anti-vaccine posts wiped from social media
Jassal’s video was removed from Facebook after CBC pointed it out to the Ministry of Health. A member of the public had complained to the government about the video in November, but a government spokesperson said it was “missed” during a review of Jassal’s Facebook page.
Filming inside a grocery store, Jassal told viewers: “As you’re talking about the best way to protect yourself from the flu, it’s not the flu shot, in our opinion, but boosting your immune system. One of the ways to do that is fresh smoothies and fresh juices.”
Jassal has not responded to requests for comment.
The video was one of several anti-vaccine posts from B.C. chiropractors that have been removed from Facebook in the last week after CBC notified the province and the college about their existence.
Other posts from Back in Line Chiropractic & Massage in Victoria suggested that “vaccinated children have more health problems than unvaccinated children” and asked: “Can vaccine ingredients cause cancer?”
Henry described this kind of rhetoric from chiropractors as an ongoing problem.
“It does concern me quite a bit. This is something that’s been going on for many years,” she said.
Immunization and prevention of infectious disease are well outside the scope of practice for chiropractors, she added, and the statements by Jassal are “clearly not scientifically based.”
“Certainly, eating healthy is really an important way to make sure your immune system is able to fight off infection, but really, the best and only way to protect yourself from some of these really serious vaccine-preventable diseases is immunization,” Henry said.
‘A set of magical beliefs’
UBC nursing professor Bernie Garrett had a much more blunt appraisal of some of the material in the chiropractors’ Facebook posts.
“The statements made by the chiropractors are basically pure, grade-A bunk, but, sadly, this is becoming more commonly seen with anti-vaccination rhetoric,” said Garrett, who studies deceptive health-care practices.
“I think it’s dangerous and irresponsible and represents a set of magical beliefs rather than science-based ones.”
He believes the posts point to a larger problem in the regulation of health-care professions in this province — namely, that “alternative” health professions like naturopathy and chiropractic are self-regulated under the Health Professions Act, in the same way as mainstream medical jobs.
“It makes sense to regulate them in a different category … because otherwise people get confused, and they think a doctor is a doctor. They don’t realize a physician is quite a different level of skill, training and educational preparation, compared to someone else who’s called a doctor who’s really a naturopath or a chiropractor,” Garrett said.
He added that B.C. needs a strong watchdog to oversee all the province’s health profession regulators.
“It’s pretty much the Wild West. Regulation is very ineffective,” he alleged.
In an interview with the Vancouver Sun last week, Health Minister Adrian Dix suggested he was questioning B.C.’s system of self-regulation for the health-care professions.
But a Health Ministry spokesperson told CBC in an email that the province “is confident that the [chiropractors’] college is acting in the interests of the public and continues to work to ensure that all registrants are aware of their responsibilities under the Health Professions Act.”
The college has not responded to multiple phone calls and emails requesting comment about any disciplinary actions taken against members who have violated the policy on vaccination.