Lytton doctor under investigation for causing 'vaccine hesitancy' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lytton doctor under investigation for causing 'vaccine hesitancy'

Lytton Dr. Charles Hoffe had his emergency room privileges taken away for allegedly promoting vaccine hesitancy.
Image Credit: Submitted/Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

A Lytton doctor has had emergency room privileges revoked and is under investigation by health authorities for promoting "vaccine hesitancy” among patients and in the community at large.

Dr. Charles Hoffe’s actions and plight was revealed by his lawyer, Michael Alexander, senior constitutional litigator with the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the same organization that took the B.C. government to court over the rights of churches to hold services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interior Health suspended Dr. Hoffe’s emergency room privileges on April 29 and he faces a meeting with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. that is investigating his actions, Alexander told iNFOnews.ca. That’s tentatively set to happen Nov. 3.

“We cannot speak to human resource issues related to physicians or staff under British Columbia privacy legislation,” Interior Health wrote in an email to iNFOnews.ca. “We can confirm Dr. Hoffe is no longer supporting Interior Health emergency services at the St. Bartholomew’s Health Centre in Lytton, B.C.”

Alexander is also representing three other doctors in similar situations across Canada as well as assisting with a number of other cases. He doesn’t know of any other B.C. doctor who has been disciplined for similar actions.

“The people who I’m working with across the country, both formally and informally, they’re facing one basic problem which is that they are trying to report adverse events from the vaccines and public health officials and government officials do not want to hear about it,” Alexander said. “In fact, these people are being punished because they want to report these adverse events and the system does not want to hear from them. In fact, it’s trying to punish them for encouraging what’s called the crime of vaccine hesitancy.”

Dr. Hoffe was trained in South Africa, came to Canada in 1990, and has been practising medicine in Lytton for 28 years as a family physician and the community's principal emergency room physician, according to a detailed news release on the Justice Centre’s website.

In January, he started administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and immediately started reporting adverse reactions well beyond what other doctors have reported across the country and the across the globe.

“He’s tried to put it on record,” Alexander said. “He has received no reply that his concerns have been taken seriously.”

READ MORE: B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccine card system good first step, medical group say

But the doctor went beyond just reporting adverse effects to Interior Health. Alexander said he wrote a letter to his colleagues suggesting there was “clear evidence of harm and asked them whether they should be pausing their own vaccine rollout to investigate the risk of injury."

That letter was sent to Interior Health, which accused him of causing vaccine hesitancy, the release says.

He was told to address any questions to an Interior Health medical health officer. After not getting a reply to a question about the “mechanism of injury” and what treatments should be given to patients, he sent the letter on to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the release says.

“Dr. Henry referred Dr. Hoffe to Dr. Monika Naus, a vaccine safety specialist, who advised that the injuries were coincidences and that the vaccine was entirely safe,” the news release states.

But Dr. Naus wouldn’t discuss that conversation, but she was willing to talk about the process of recording adverse effects that has been done with vaccines in B.C. for a long time but became mandatory in 2019, before COVID.

It’s called post-market safety surveillance where physicians are to report adverse events for all vaccines to local health authorities.

Adverse events are reactions that are not expected or listed on the labels or information sheets that go with the vaccines.

For example, soreness of the injection sites is expected and would not be reported unless it persists for nine days or requires medical attention.

Each report is reviewed by the intake nurse and medical health officer and responses sent back to the doctors with one of three recommendations: to continue with the vaccinations as scheduled, to delay the second injection or cancel the second injection.

Doctors don’t always agree with those recommendations so there can be some discussions back and forth, Dr. Naus said.

Interior Health also would not comment directly on Dr. Hoffe’s case.

“Interior Health and First Nations Health Authority are aware that information has been shared recently that has raised concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines,” states a document Interior Health says it “shared” with the community of Lytton on April 14. “It is important for people in the Lytton area, including the Nlaka’pamux and Northern St’at’imc Nations, to know that there have been no deaths or lasting adverse reactions connected to the Moderna/Pfizer vaccines, or any COVID-19 vaccine, in Lytton, Interior Health or B.C. at this time.

“Be assured, there is a detailed process to review all adverse events following immunizations, and all serious events are recorded and reported to the provincial and national level to monitor for safety signals that may be missed at the local level. With the information we have from the vaccine roll-out so far, the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe.”

Interior Health also provided iNFOnews.ca with a link to a national database on adverse effects that shows, out of 54.8 million doses of vaccines administered as of Sept. 24, there were 17,079 adverse events reported, of which 4,463 were considered serious.

Dr. Hoffe's office assistant posted a one-page information sheet from the Justice Centre on the notice board in the Lytton Health Centre with questionable information.

“Physicians need to be aware that when they identify themselves as a physician, the public tends to place great weight on their opinion even if that physician has no expertise in a medical specialty, such as population health or infectious diseases,” states a joint release from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and the First Nations Health Authority issued on May 6. “The confidence entrusted by the public places even greater responsibility on physicians when making pronouncements about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Misinformation breaches public trust and is contrary to the ethical obligations set out in the Canadian Medical Association’s Code of Ethics and Professionalism. Physicians must be guided by the laws that govern them, regulatory practice standards and guidelines, the Code of Ethics and Professionalism, and scientific evidence when giving their opinions about COVID-19.

“Public statements from physicians that contradict public health orders and guidance are confusing and potentially harmful to patients,” Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar and CEO of the College said in the statement. “Those who put the public at risk with misinformation may face an investigation by the College, and if warranted, regulatory action.”

The suspension of Dr. Hoffe’s emergency room privileges means he has lost half his income so he and his family are suffering financially, Alexander said.

Alexander noted that, when the College of Physicians and Surgeons investigates a doctor, they have a team of lawyers involved so it’s common practice for the doctor being investigated to have legal representation as well.

“Dr. Hoffe has an ethical and legal obligation to ensure that the medical community is aware of his observations of his patient’s reactions to the Moderna vaccine,” the news release stats. "The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects his right to fulfil this obligation based on the guarantees of the freedom of expression and conscience.”

The Justice Centre represented a Kelowna church (Harvest Ministries International) and others that were fined last winter for holding indoor services in violation of public health orders and challenged COVID orders in court.

READ MORE: Kelowna church to take on Dr. Bonnie Henry in court

Harvest Ministries wasn’t one of the churches cited in the actual court proceedings. The challenge was dismissed by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in March.

See the full news release here.


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