British Columbia

Naturopaths, chiropractors least vaccinated of all B.C. health professionals, province says

Less than 70 per cent of B.C. naturopaths are vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to 98 per cent of physicians, surgeons and dietitians, according to new data released by the province.

Physicians, surgeons and dietitians have highest rate of COVID-19 vaccination in the province at 98%

Three workers in medical masks load up syringes with vaccines.
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Vancouver Convention Centre, pictured on Jan. 13. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Naturopathic physicians have by far the lowest rate of COVID-19 vaccination of all regulated health practitioners in British Columbia at just 69.2 per cent, followed by chiropractors at 78.1 per cent and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists at 79 per cent.

At the high end of the scale are dietitians, physicians and surgeons with a 98 per cent vaccination rate.

The figures were released by the province Tuesday and refer to individuals who have at least two doses of vaccine or a medical exemption.

Overall, the vaccination rate among members of reporting B.C. health-care colleges is 94 per cent.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said data from the college of nurses and midwives wasn't included in the report because it was taking longer to pull together due to the size of the cohort.

Nurses make up the biggest segment of workers in the public health-care system and are known to have high vaccination rates, said Henry. 

In October 2021, Henry ordered B.C. health-care colleges to report on the vaccination status of members so people using the public health-care system could make informed choices. 

There is no public reporting system currently in place to show which practitioners are vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, in April, the Ministry of Health told CBC the province was working with each college to find a way for patients making in-person visits to know the vaccination status of their health-care provider.

Henry said the details are still a work in progress.

"The overriding interest is in patient safety," she said. "What we are working through is how to make it so it's not a disclosure of personal information, a way that protects the practitioner."

From lowest to highest, here are the vaccination rates in B.C. professional health-care sectors: 

  • Naturopathic physicians: 69.2%.
  • Chiropractors: 78.1%.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists: 79.0%.
  • Massage therapists: 87.9%.
  • Dental technicians: 90.7%.
  • Audiologists/hearing instrument practitioners: 91.9%.
  • Dental hygienists: 92.6%.
  • Dental assistants: 92.8%.
  • Denturists: 92.9 %.
  • Speech-language pathologists: 92.9%.
  • Opticians: 94.9%.
  • Physical therapists: 95.2%.
  • Dentists: 95.9%.
  • Optometrists: 96.0%.
  • Psychologists: 96.1%
  • Pharmacists: 96.7%
  • Pharmacy technicians: 96.8%
  • Occupational therapists: 96.9%
  • Dietitians: 98%
  • Physicians and surgeons: 98.0%

Henry said although there has been a levelling off of COVID-19 cases, she expects a bounce back when the fall cold and flu season hits. 

"We will likely have a reprieve in the next few months due to the seasonal nature of virus spread," she said. "But this virus is going to be with us for some time."

with files from Bethany Lindsay