A comment was made on Twitter earlier today that I was photographed at the recent conference of the Chiropractors Association of NSW with an individual alleged to have made anti-vaccination comments. Note: being photographed with someone is not an endorsement of their views.
I opened the conference with an address entitled “Redefining the Mainstream”, which I warned would be confronting to some of the attendees. The following is an excerpt of that address outlining some of the areas I felt chiropractors needed to address as a profession, including their lack of response to anti-vaccination comments made by members of their profession:
Another serious concern is that a vocal minority of chiropractors is opposed to vaccination of babies and children. Vaccinations are talked of as “toxic poisons” and blamed for numerous diseases and conditions such as ADHD, autism, diabetes and cancers.”
The CAA (NSW) doesn’t have a position statement on immunisation, but some of your board members are known to be professional members of the controversial Australian (Anti)-Vaccination Network, a group discredited by the Health Care Complaints Commission.
NOT having a position supporting vaccination but having chiropractors, who are members of your association, the CAA (NSW), making public statements against vaccination makes your entire profession an easy target for criticism. This criticism is not only of the vaccination position, but becomes a more generalized criticism of chiropractic.
A public lecture by a Sydney chiropractor last year added fuel to the controversy. He made statements which were not only controversial, they were manifestly WRONG, along the lines of:
• “a child given all the vaccines on the schedule would receive 2370 times the accepted toxic dose (of mercury).
Mercury has not been used in vaccines for many years.
• “Vaccine makers grow chicken pox virus on aborted fetuses and these viruses are used in vaccines”
We do not develop vaccines using human fetuses.
Making unsupportable claims in the name of your profession is like painting a target on your chest and saying “AIM HERE”.
It is sure to provide ammunition for the ultra-conservative critics, while the otherwise open-minded and accepting members of the mainstream medical profession will be understandably forced to distance themselves.
It is said that some elements of chiropractic want to be a breakaway primary health provider. There are great dangers for a health discipline operating in isolation from current mainstream medicine. Like any other health care practitioner, you are not immune from the medico-legal consequences of working outside of the boundaries of your discipline and training, and missed diagnosis or delayed effective treatment can be a tragedy for a patient and a disaster for the practitioner.
IN RESPONSE TO THE ANT-VACCINATION COMMENTS: WAS THERE AN IMMEDIATE AND CLARIFYING RESPONSE BY ORGANISED PROFESSIONAL BODIES? No
WAS A FORMAL POLICY POSITION STATEMENT DEVELOPED AND PUBLICISED? NO
ENTER THE “FRIENDS”
Nature abhors a vacuum. So…At the end of 2011 we saw a concerted and organised push by ultra-conservative forces targeting certain health disciplines, including chiropractic. A group calling itself “Friends of Science in Medicine” came out of nowhere with an alarming and far-reaching agenda.
In fact, chiropractic was reserved a special place in their target zone.
Chiropractic became an easy target, NOT because of the vast majority of practitioners and academics working responsibly, but because of the utterances of one or two unrepresentative chiropractors making claims about chiropractic doing something for which there is no evidence or plausibility: chiropractic as an alternative to vaccination of children.
The demands included the shutting down of the RMIT paediatric chiropractic clinic. A letter by Loretta Marron addressed to the then Health Minister Nicola Roxon said: “It is high time that universities returned to their core principles and dropped pseudoscientific courses which lead to attacks on vaccination and the promotion of expensive, useless and potentially harmful treatments.
Ironically, no evidence is presented that “chiropractors frequently discourage vaccination of children.” The letter then linked the notorious Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to chiropractic, claiming that “a number” of chiropractors are members of the AVN.”
Hope that clears up any confusion about where I stand