Search This Blog

Friday, October 8, 2021

Antivax Chiropractors

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Michelle R. Smith, Scott Bauer, and Mike Catalini at AP report that some chiropractos have pushed antivax misinformation.

They have touted their supplements as alternatives to vaccines, written doctor’s notes to allow patients to get out of mask and immunization mandates, donated large sums of money to anti-vaccine organizations and sold anti-vaccine ads on Facebook and Instagram, the AP discovered. One chiropractor gave thousands of dollars to a Super PAC that hosted an anti-vaccine, pro-Donald Trump rally near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.


 “People trust them. They trust their authority, but they also feel like they’re a nice alternative to traditional medicine,” said Erica DeWald of Vaccinate Your Family, who tracks figures in the anti-vaccine movement. “Mainstream medicine will refer people out to a chiropractor not knowing that they could be exposed to misinformation. You go because your back hurts, and then suddenly you don’t want to vaccinate your kids.”

The purveyors of vaccine misinformation represent a small but vocal minority of the nation's 70,000 chiropractors, many of whom advocate for vaccines. In some places, chiropractors have helped organize vaccine clinics or been authorized to give COVID-19 shots.

Even before the pandemic, many chiropractors became active in the so-called “health freedom” movement, advocating in state legislatures from Massachusetts to South Dakota to allow more people to skip vaccinations.


Nebraska chiropractor Ben Tapper landed on the “Disinformation Dozen,” a list compiled by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which says he is among the small group of people responsible for nearly two-thirds of anti-vaccine content online. Tapper went viral with posts downplaying the dangers of COVID-19, criticizing “Big Pharma,” and stoking fears of the vaccine.


On the West Coast, a chiropractic seminar and expo called Cal Jam, run by chiropractor Billy DeMoss, said in 2019 it raised a half-million dollars for a group led by one of the world’s most prominent anti-vaccine activists, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Photographs posted online show DeMoss and others presenting Kennedy with a giant check for $500,000. The check’s signature line read “Chiropractic Rebels.”


Beth Clay, executive director of the International Chiropractors Association, said in an email that the group “takes no official position” on vaccines, but when asked whether its formal policy statement had been rescinded, she replied that it “technically” remained official. The group’s policy statements were scheduled to be reviewed in the next 18 months, she said.

Clay has been an anti-vaccine activist for decades, DeWald said. In articles for the website of Kennedy’s group in 2019, she downplayed the danger of measles and pushed a link between vaccines and autism, a claim that is unsupported by science and has been widely debunked.