New Leaked AANP “Support” for CDC Vaccine Schedule is Probably a Marketing Ploy for Political Gain

You don’t know me, and I want to keep myself anonymous because I am still in practice and have a presence in the naturopathic profession.

I received an anonymous email this morning from a naturopath who currently sits on the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), House of Delegates (HOD). The HOD serves as one of the main AANP bodies responsible for most of the work involving policy, ethics, position papers, bylaws and other organizational tasks.

The email is timely. This weekend, the AANP is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a conference in Oakland, California. Members of the HOD are meeting to discuss and revise key aspects of the naturopathic profession.

New AANP draft paper on naturopathic vaccines

An important item on this year’s agenda is the AANP’s position on vaccinations. Readers may remember an early post of mine that included the AANP’s current position paper. That paper gives, at best, a very weak head nod in the direction of recommending vaccines. The paper does not refer to any vaccination schedule and is loosely structured, which easily allows naturopaths to make up their own vaccination schedules or avoid immunizations altogether. Now, it seems change is in the air. 

The Leaked Position Paper on Naturopathic Vaccines

The HOD member who contacted me has shared the new, “secret” AANP draft position paper on immunizations as well as a new AANP guidance of care document. The latter is meant to serve as a guideline for a naturopathic practice. These papers also seem to have been mistakenly made public on the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians website.

The first noticeable difference between the current position paper and this revised version is the length. This new paper is considerably longer. It also specifically mentions the CDC immunization schedule.

On this point, the HOD member wrote to me:

it’s in there because the big wigs need political cache for licensure not because this stance reflects the profession as a whole. Another HOD member said that most people won’t read the whole thing, but they will see “CDC” and be content enough.

Even if the sentiment is false, this new draft appears to be a major improvement over the AANP’s policy on childhood vaccinations from 2001.

I found it particularly interesting that the new document admits that

There is currently no definitive evidence supporting any particular alternative vaccination schedule.

And then the HOD got creative. They claim that naturopaths will be the first practitioners to which families who have been fired by pediatricians for not following medical advice will turn. Therefore,  it seems naturopaths are really helpful for advice on how to get caught up, right?

Many families are removed from or refused entry to medical practices due to their vaccination hesitation, resistance, or requests for an alternative vaccination schedule, and they therefore seek out naturopathic physicians for care and vaccine guidance.

This seems like a bait and switch move. I highly doubt that naturopaths will take these patients and guide them back on the vaccine bandwagon. Given my experience, naturopaths tend not to push back when patients are expressing their “freedom” to spread vaccine preventable diseases.

The document also makes sure to include good homage to naturopathic traditions by stating,

Additional measures should also be recommended to reduce the risk of vaccine-preventable disease including healthy diet, regular exercise, routine hand washing, optimizing immune function, and breast-feeding.

They forgot to mention homeopathy as a means to “vaccinate.” (More on homeopathic vaccines.)

Check out the paper for yourself from the link above.

Politics over Public Health

According to my HOD source, the decision for the AANP to revise the position paper is more to do with political maneuvering and less to do with public health. He/She writes that since the passing of SB 277 in California

AANP officials are starting to understand that if they don’t get ahead of this issue as more and more [states] begin to pass similar laws, then naturopaths will be viewed unfavorably by lawmakers. The real fear is that initiatives to push through licensure in un-licensed states will die a miserable death. New York and Massachusetts are big right now, with the AANP putting a lot of money and effort to seal the deal after years of trying.

Several weeks ago, SB 277 became law in California which eliminated vaccine exemptions based on personal beliefs. When I practiced as a licensed naturopath in Washington state, I signed many vaccination exemption forms for non-medical reasons. I considered myself to be pro-vaccine while simultaneously providing children with an alternative vaccine schedule almost exclusively. I suppose this is what the AANP might mean when they claim NDs are pro-vaccine? I don’t think I had one child patient who was on the CDC schedule.

I am pretty sure I was not the only one. In fact, Scott Gavura wrote a nice review of the attitudes and practices of licensed naturopaths on immunizations. It should come as no surprise that licensed naturopaths are not anywhere close to pro-vaccine. I would argue that this is because naturopathic doctors are taught alternative vaccine schedules in their accredited schools. My syllabi from my Bastyr courses include several texts on alternative schedules with anti-vaccine rhetoric.

It’s clear that AANP officials should have anxiety that laws such as SB 277 may create set-backs for naturopathic medicine when trying to expand licensure in states where they are not licensed and broaden naturopathic scopes of practice where they have already gained a foothold. Their rank and file are almost entirely not pro-vaccine.

I found evidence that some fear about how their anti-vaccine profession was perceived by outsiders started well before 2015. During an AANP HOD meeting on August 16, 2011, a board of directors representative stated there is “concern about the negative light the [current immunization position] paper may cast.”

It seems that AANP officials can now rest assured. In four years, they appear to have figured out how to blatantly misrepresent their profession to the public.

Naturopathic Vaccine Advocacy is a Ruse

In contrast to the AANP’s political platform, licensed naturopaths largely do not believe that the CDC immunization schedule is the safest or best approach for immunizing children.

The HOD member who wrote to me provided this anecdote:

There was a survey conducted across the entire profession about how NDs felt about vaccines, and the results were very disappointing. The majority view was that vaccines should be delayed and many never received. A small percentage, like 3%, believed in the full CDC schedule. This report wasn’t troubling for the AANP, as much as it was troubling for us to try and figure out how to balance this anti-vaccine belief into a position paper that the AANP can use to outwardly show to politicians that we support vaccination.

I find it really troubling that the HOD didn’t seem to make it a priority to make sure that licensed naturopaths understand that vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and a mandatory intervention for a healthy society. Instead, they appear to have been focused on covering up the problem by drafting a document loaded with what lawmakers need to know about naturopathic medicine in order for the AANP to reach it legislative goals. Naturopaths have been fairly successful at misleading politicians into believing that they support and agree with the CDC immunization schedule and that they are supposedly trained in real medicine.

Recently, Colorado naturopaths successfully lobbied for the expansion of their scope of practice to include treating children under the age of 2 years, whom they were previously barred from treating. A letter written by the AANP president in support of naturopathic care for children, submitted to the Colorado Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, presents a carefully worded position of vaccine advocacy. Given that the AANP leadership seems aware that a huge percentage of licensed naturopaths are anti-vaccine, this written testimony should be considered fraudulent.

I believe that the Colorado naturopaths were successful due to direct statements like this one and others, including one from the Colorado Academy of Pediatrics. Unless politicians are extra vigilant by reading between the lines and looking at the wider context of the naturopathic profession, they may fail to realize they have been given misinformation about how licensed naturopaths really practice.

The AANP needs to figure out what to do with a community of health care “professionals” who are overwhelmingly anti-vaccine while pushing a  lobbying effort saying the exact opposite. This disparity might already be costing the organization. The HOD member who wrote to me says,

This new paper is causing a lot of ruckus. Most NDs are really pissed off. We are gathering in Oakland this week for the 30th anniversary, and already there is rumbling about conspiracy, unethical decisions, civil liberties, and so on.

Could this new position paper divide the profession? Will a group of truly pro-vaccine naturopathic doctors come forward?

From my experience, I think this is a watershed moment for the profession. Finally, naturopathic support for vaccines! As I have said before, the profession must undergo dramatic changes if it is to be considered a legitimate medical profession. This new draft position paper looks like a step in the right direction, but naturopathic organizations seem to have not always been honest and forthcoming.

Image credit: Calcutta Rescue with some rights reserved.

 

  • Robert

    Good for the AANP for stepping forward on this. I’m sure there is pushback from some of the older naturopaths, but i’m also seeing more and more ND students in favor of vaccines. There will be an initial divide but change is appropriate.

    • Jerry

      Just like there is a divide in the MD community over antibiotics. The younger docs have it right, antibiotics are on their way out as they should be. NDs are doing great work to heal damage caused by antibiotics.

      • cruz

        How specifically are NDs “doing great work to heal damage caused by antibiotics?” What are the specific harms done by MDs and DOs regarding antibiotics and how have NDs specifically responded?

      • David

        I think Ian/jerry should be excused for his delusional comments as he is obviously suffering from encephalopathy from systemic candidiasis. Nothing that a couple of IV chelation therapies can’t fix

        • Jerry

          “Md are closely regulated biy their colleges and if they do not use antibiotics when it is clearly indicated eg strep throat , bacterial pneumonia erc, they will lose their license quite quickly.”

          Don’t be slow, there is a movement called “All bugs dont need drugs” supported by governments and MDs showing a move away from antibiotics for usual colds. What you mentioned are severe cases and yes even NDs might use antibiotics in those cases.

          “Of course naturopaths can do what they want because their college promotes it.”

          Another false statement, youre on a roll David/who cares what your other names are. NDs cannot do what they want because their college also regulates them. The colleges also have non-ND members on the board just like the MD colleges. So yeah another fail on your part.

          • David

            The fact that you think those are “severe cases” that I mentioned is all the evidence that I need to know that you have nothing to do with the medical field.

            • Jerry

              Right! It all depends on the patient population you’re treating genius. You just keep failing 🙁

              • David

                So jerry. How should I respond to the naturopath who treated mb patients glaucoma with chromium silver until her corneas scarred over. Should I thank them He did not even now what glaucoma was and I’m sure jerry doesn’t know what it is either

                • Jerry

                  So David, how should I respond to MDs who make errors ALL the freakin time? Should I thank them? Its called disciplining the individual not the entire profession! Grow up a bit will you?

                  You could have easily reported the said ND instead of insulting an entire profession. It sounds like you’re just pretending to be an MD since you should know exactly what to do in that case!

                  • David

                    I did write a letter to the naturopathic college. They did nothing. The lawyers letter may get there attention. When I asked the naturopath to define glaucoma if he is going to treat it and he didn’t know what it was. Tell me jerry, what is glaucoma?

                  • Jerry

                    If I have to tell you what glaucoma is then you should hang up your “license” right now David lool.

                    So it was so important to you that you wrote a letter? Wow you put in so much effort there cowboy, maybe I should give you a gold star?

                    I’m sure this fake patient of yours really appreciates all your “effort”, laughable.

          • jgc

            “NDs cannot do what they want because their college also regulates them.”
            No, Jerry: they don’t. Following graduation a naturopathic’s college has no authority to regulate their graduates’ clinical practices.

            • Jerry

              Yes they do! They have all sorts of by-laws even on the topic of vaccination. I’m not talking about the shcool they went to but the actual college regulating the profession in regulated states and provinces. Look it up!

              • jgc

                Naturopathic colleges do not have regulatory authority. In the US the individual sate governments license and regulate health care providers. Currently 17 states license naturopaths, while only 2 states while 2 states (South Carolina dn Tennessee) prohibit their practice. Licensing defines scope of practice, but the fundamental problem with naturopathy is that, unlike the case with licensed physicians, there is no defined standard of care to which they are held. If they want to treat leukemia with gall bladder cleanses, they’re free to do so.

                • Jerry

                  Ok you gotta stop replying when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Why even bring up places it isn’t regulated? Just to spread your venom? I’m talking about regulated jurisdictions.

                  And NDs on the most part always work with the patient’s primary care provider and are an adjunct to the the team especially for conditions you mentioned. Stop discrediting yourself by trying to make NDs look like fools. Shame on you and anyone who believes this garbage.

                  Standard of care? You mean the ones defined by pharmaceutical companies for MDs? What a joke!

                  • jgc

                    “I’m talking about regulated jurisdictions.”

                    So you’re argument has somehow transformed into “While naturopaths in states where licensing is not required can do whatever they want, those in states where it is cannot because their college also regulates them”?

                    Despite the shift you’re still wrong, both because the colleges have no regulatory authority and because there is no naturopathic standard of care.
                    .

        • Jerry

          At least I have a brain to be inflamed, you on the other hand are suffering from anencephaly due to long-term skepticism and lack of brain use. For you I don’t see a suitable therapy, so sad :_(

      • David

        And jerry, I am not sure where you have heard about this divide in the use of antibiotics. Md are closely regulated biy their colleges and if they do not use antibiotics when it is clearly indicated eg strep throat , bacterial pneumonia erc, they will lose their license quite quickly. Of course naturopaths can do what they want because their college promotes it.

  • The Naturocrit Blog and Podcast

    Speaking of marketing ploys, here’s some interesting math regarding AANP- and CAND-type naturopathy education in North America. If you take the numbers at The Princeton Review’s current page on naturopathy schools

    http://www.princetonreview.com/grad-programs/98/naturopathy-naturopathic-medicine

    which is actually an incomplete list as 2 schools are not listed [NUHS and SCNM], and project the cost for those ND degrees just merely using these numbers for tuition:

    (average tuition) X (4 years) X (total enrollment stated of these 5 schools)

    23,600 X 4 X 1859

    the number I get is $175,489,600 or about 1.7 million dollars. I used a guessed enrollment of 150 at UB to get that 1859 number, because only tuition is listed.

    I say marketing ploy because:

    you get a broad science claim at AANMC regarding naturopathy categorically, and then you find inside huge swathes of what is patently science-discarded and kind.

    -r.c.

    • Bradley

      obsessed much?

    • The Naturocrit Blog and Podcast

      Wait, what was I thinking? That’s not 1.7 million, that’s 175 MILLION. I’m admittedly rather innumerate.

  • Lighthorse

    Sorry, but I find the term “naturopathic vaccines” misleading. Moreover, the last person I would go to for vaccination is a naturopath.

    • coffeehouse

      Why? if they are following a CDC schedule?

    • https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

      Lighthorse: I agree. It was a typo. Thank you for pointing this out.

      • Lighthorse

        Britt Hermes: No problem. For your insightful take on the pretentious device of the position paper, please accept my heartfelt thanks.

  • Jerry

    So we’re just supposed to believe that you received an email from someone lol right, from what I know NDs are not looking to share anything with you

    • Travis

      and what do you know, exactly? That you dismiss Britt because she criticizes naturopathy?

      • Jerry

        Oh like she has facts behind her when she criticizes? We’re all doing the same thing. NDs though in the meanwhile will be attending to their loyal patients while you guys write meaningless blogs for one another

        • Travis

          I’ve seen her transcript and she’s gone into quite the depth on some topics. Frankly, much of what she says is just a slightly-more-insider look on things that people have been writing about for years…

          So, you never answered my question. What do you know, exactly?

          • Jerry

            What do transcripts prove exactly? What are you gonna do hold them up like a bible and base everything on something with just the title of the course on it?

            “and she’s gone into quite the depth on some topics.”
            You can go in depth talking a lot of BS too. Its what disgruntled members of a profession usually do. And your point is?

            Btw I dont need to answer your questions especially when you haven’t justified your initial comments.

            • Travis

              This was what my original comment was

              “and what do you know, exactly? That you dismiss Britt because she criticizes naturopathy?”

              I don’t have to justify anything, here. I asked you a question that you didn’t answer.

              I don’t take what Britt says as gospel (I actually had a lengthy exchange regarding the “pay gap” on an article from a few months ago, for example). My point is that she is providing an insider’s perspective that simply agrees with everything skeptics have been saying for awhile now, only with a bit more insight from her perspective. I’m not even a medical professional so there’s not much evaluation I can do on these topics on my own without intense research. Unfortunately, I do have to trust, tentatively, what the skeptic and scientific consensus is because it’s very often correct and at the very least the most well-informed position.

    • Taylor Hermes

      Hi Ian/Jerry, please stick to one name when commenting.

      • Jerry

        Ah you got me Taylor good job lad! Perhaps stick to one forum format?

        • cruz

          Perhaps not be so dishonest?

          • Jerry

            Awww how cute, did I hurt your digital feelings? Well get over it, its a nickname.
            You want me to believe your name is really cruz? And if it is it shows how naive you skeptics are.

  • Delegate

    Sorry, but this is patently false. The AANP vaccine position paper has nothing to do with SB277. In fact it’s development, review and edits began long before Senator Pan introduced legislation. No one on the HOD would ever think the two were related. Lastly, only the CA delegates even know what SB277 is and none of them were present at the AANP’s HOD meeting last week. The “source” was probably a friend who has assess to the multiple Facebook discussions that “leaked” the position paper. In fact, I recognize many of your “quotes” as comments made on Facebook…One more thing, I’ve seen you regularly re-tweet your former professor Matt Brignall, whom you know very well is an outspoken ND in favor of immunizations, along with many of your old classmates.

    • https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

      Hi Delegate/ “Not convinced Keep Trying” Please stick to one account name when commenting.

      If you had read the entire article, you would have read that in a meeting from 2011, the AANP was concerned about the immunization position paper they had at that time.

      I find it hard to believe that only the NDs in CA would be aware of SB 277, as it was covered in the national media and is a very important public health topic for those involved in creating policies. It is sad but not surprising that according to you, the HOD naturopaths are uniformed about such an important piece of public health legislation that would directly impact the ND profession.

      As for the similar comments you’ve seen on Facebook: You hear rumblings of conspiracy? Comments regarding the vaccination survey and ND’s not supporting the CDC schedule? I can only imagine.

  • Jonathan
  • Pingback: Naturopathic Practice without Vaccines is not Primary Care Medicine - Naturopathic DiariesNaturopathic Diaries()

  • David

    In any area where naturopath is get there paws on real meds such as antibiotics they use them Just like how I said in canada they are allowed to botox and fillers and are embracing those wholeheartedly. Hypocrisy at its best. But just shows that they are fakes trying to play doctor and will do anything for a buck.

  • http://brainchattering.blogspot.com The Beta Female

    The extraordinary level of immaturity on the part of the Jerry/Ian/Delegate/Whoever the hell you are is unbelievable.

    Resorting to name calling and snark is not lending you ANY credibility at all, whoever you are. The blatant meanness is frankly puzzling to me, and unproductive.

    I’ve been to ND school, too. Britt’s statements accurately reflect my observations of the profession, and I wasn’t even at the same school.

  • LuciusP

    Britt-

    While I appreciate the overall thrust of your blog in terms of raising the standards bar for naturopathic medicine, I find this particular piece to be going somewhat off the rails.

    The main error of reasoning you make (and seem to be making more often) is that your personal experience of naturopathic medicine is sufficient evidence to make broad generalizations and claims about the profession as a whole.

    I’m sure you can appreciate the irony in using your anecdotal or “n=1 study” to make claims about naturopathic medicine, when a huge part of your argument against naturopathic medicine is that it is not sufficiently evidence-based.

    What is more, you are doubling-down on your logical error when you take everything that your alleged informant has “leaked” to you at face value, without conducting any sort of investigation into the veracity of their claims, or at the very least to mention to your evidence-loving readership that there has been no corroboration of this “leak” that you are reporting.

    But perhaps to the point, it is most interesting to me that you have taken this news as a shift in the AANP position regarding vaccination as a mere “ploy” and then continue to weave a narrative of what you believe is going on behind the scenes, despite having no direct experience of it on your own.

    It’s a bit paranoid, don’t you think?

    Look, perhaps you are right. But perhaps something else is going on.

    For example, perhaps there is actually a larger divide between naturopathic doctors over this issue than you personally believe it to be. I’ve heard the argument made that vaccinations are “naturopathic” because they “stimulate the body’s self-healing mechanisms.”

    Perhaps it reflects a genuine shift in the attitude of the profession at large.

    Perhaps some naturopathic doctors are taking some of the criticisms you are levying here and on other “not so secret” blogs and actually using it to become empowered to speak their minds about things that they have been seeing going wrong with the profession as well.

    Yet we can’t prove any of that. It’s all just hearsay and conjecture. Makes for interesting blogging, for sure.

    Just make sure you don’t make the mistake of taking your own conjectures for fact without sufficient evidence to back up the claims you are making. Otherwise, you just end up looking sort of like the very people you are railing against.