WATCH: Which health professions have the highest and lowest COVID vaccination uptake?

Some professions have many more people vaccinated than others

  • Dieticians and physicians more likely to be vaccinated than naturopaths
  • Dr. Henry suggested patient safety and privacy could be kept in balance

New data shows the vast majority of health care practitioners in British Columbia have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but there are disparities across practices.

The province’s top doctor has indicated work is underway to ensure what she called "a balance between practitioner privacy and patient safety."

Some of the regulated health professions show a much bigger uptake of the vaccine than others with dieticians as well as physicians and surgeons leading the way, while those working as naturopaths, chiropractors, and in traditional Chinese medicine, lag behind.

In March, Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued the Health Professionals COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures order to collect information about vaccination status of practising regulated health professions.

Now, Health Minister Adrian Dix has released data on the vaccination rates for health care professionals current to April 2.

Seventeen of the 18 colleges that represent those professionals are reporting, with about 94 per cent overall having been vaccinated or who are medically exempt, according to Dix.

He noted data for the final group, the College of Nurses and Midwives, has not been fully collected as there are over 63,000 individuals under the regulating body. The rates for those workers will be released in the coming weeks.

Naturopaths and chiropractors have lowest uptake

The statistics from the province show the College of Dieticians and the College of Physicians and Surgeons had the highest vaccination rates at 98 per cent. Pharmacy Technicians were also at a high rate of uptake at 96.8 per cent.

On the lower end of the spectrum, the College of Naturopathic Physicians had a rate of 69.2 per cent; Chiropractors were at 78.1 per cent, and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists were at 79 per cent.

“The vast majority of people in those three professions are vaccinated,” Dix said at a media briefing Tuesday. “And I think it’s that group of people which may have more concerns with some of their colleagues who have, for whatever reason, chosen not to be vaccinated.”

Dix added however, that was the reality facing the public, but at least the numbers were being made available.

The numbers are for the whole province only and not broken down by health region.

Patient safety vs. practitioner privacy

Henry said having this information available will allow British Columbians to make informed decisions to receive in-person treatment or services while also protecting themselves against COVID-19.

However, at this stage, it is not possible for a patient to find out if their particular health care practitioner has been vaccinated and Henry was asked if professional privacy outweighed the public’s desire to know.

“There are ethical principles around the protection of privacy that are very, very important, and there are principles around patient safety than trump everything,” Henry said. “It is finding that balance.”

Henry said there were already models in place regarding for example, surgeons affected with HIV or with people working in health care with hepatitis, although she did not elaborate.

“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."

List of colleges and vaccination rates in B.C. as of Apr. 25, 2022:

Dieticians – 98 per cent

Physicians and Surgeons – 98 per cent

Pharmacy Technicians – 96.8 per cent

Pharmacists – 96.7 per cent

Occupational Therapists – 96.9 per cent

Psychologists – 96.1 per cent

Optometrists – 96 per cent

Dentists – 95.9 per cent

Physical Therapists – 95.2 per cent

Opticians – 94.9 per cent

Denturists – 92.9 per cent

Speech Language Pathologists – 92.9 per cent

Dental Assistants – 92.8 per cent

Dental Hygienists – 92.6 per cent

Audiologists/Hearing Instrument Practitioners 91.9 per cent

Dental Technicians – 90.7 per cent

Massage Therapists 87.9 per cent

Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists – 79 per cent

Chiropractors – 78.1 per cent

Naturopathic Physicians – 62.9 per cent

Colleges are the regulating bodies responsible for licensing and establishing standards of practice for health care workers.

Published 2022-05-10 by Glenn Hicks

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