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Anti-vaccine doctors 'unfortunate' but a small minority; B.C. health officials working with physicians college on credible information


Officially, British Columbia's guidance has been for all eligible members of the public to get their COVID-19 vaccines. But some trusted professionals have been giving other advice.

Some outspoken doctors have been suggesting patients shouldn't get the vaccine, or that they don't need it, whether through social media and other means of communication or during one-on-one appointments.

It's a trend the province's top doctor called "unfortunate."

When asked about it during a news conference Thursday touting the health ministry's latest bid for mass vaccination – "Walk-In Wednesday" – Dr. Bonnie Henry said she's aware that some doctors are giving alternate advice.

While those doctors often get attention for going against the grain, the provincial health officer said it's actually a very small amount of people in the profession.

She said immunization rates for B.C. physicians are in the high 90s. That's compared to 67.9 per cent of all eligible people aged 12 and up who have received both doses.

She said accessing and providing credible information on the COVID-19 vaccines is of the things she's working on with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

Similarly, she and the ministry are working to ensure the public has access to credible information through the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, which, among other information, posts data on those who've had adverse effects to vaccines.

They can happen, Henry said, but in those "rare" events, health officials are following up closely with those people to find out what was behind the bad reaction.

Generally, the shots are considered very safe and very effective, she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix chimed in after Henry's answer, saying that generally he thinks doctors have been leaders in the fight against COVID-19.

Efforts toward meeting immunization goals are being led at the community level by family doctors and other health-care workers who talk through the decision with their patients.

He said there may be some health professionals providing other advice, but the vast majority have already got both shots themselves.

"If you want to see what you should do, watch what doctors are doing," Dix said.

Both officials said they know that people may have questions before agreeing to the vaccine, and that they should look for credible sources to answer those questions.

Dix said doctors and pharmacists can be a great resource, and recommended anyone with hesitations have a conversation with a health professional.

Both urged anyone thinking they don't need the vaccine as deaths and hospitalizations have remained low in recent months to reconsider ahead of the fall, a time when other respiratory illnesses will be at play as well.

And, they said, COVID-19 will still be a factor in the months to come.

"This virus is not gone," Henry said, noting a spike in cases over the last few weeks in B.C., including on Wednesday when the province had the highest daily case number across Canada.

She said 95 per cent of people who've been diagnosed recently have not been fully immunized, though she said in part, it's young people who haven't had the chance to get their second shot yet due to the waiting period between doses.

Everyone currently in intensive care in B.C. due to the novel coronavirus is unvaccinated, she said.

"You are at risk, and you're spreading it to the people closest to you." Top Stories

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