College Clarifies Statement That Advised Psychotherapy for Serious Cases of COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Anxieties’

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has clarified an earlier statement that sparked controversy for appearing to advise doctors that it may be necessary to refer patients with “anxieties” about receiving COVID-19 vaccination to prescription medications and psychological help.

Screenshots of the initial CPSO statement were published on Oct. 4 by Twitter user Nadine Ness, a former RCMP officer and the wife of a doctor. The statement advised, “It is also important that physicians work with their patients to manage anxieties related to the vaccine and not enable avoidance behaviour. In cases of serious concern, responsible use of prescription medications and/or referral to psychotherapy are available options.”

“Overall, physicians have a responsibility to allow their patients to be properly informed about vaccines and not have those anxieties empowered by an exemption,” continued the statement.

In providing guidance to doctors on how to respond to patient requests for COVID-19 vaccine exemption letters, the CPSO said “guidance” from various sources suggests “there are very few acceptable medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination.”

The CPSO statement also stated that “given the rarity of these exceptions, and in light of the fact that vaccines have been proven to be both safe and effective,” any notes written for patients who qualify for a medical exemption need to clearly specify the reason they cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 and the effective time period for the medical reason.

CPSO spokesperson Shae Greenfield confirmed to The Epoch Times that the statement was updated.

“We clarified our statement after seeing that it was being misrepresented by some online,” Greenfield said in an email on Nov. 20.

The new statement still reads that physicians need to “work with their patients to manage anxieties related to the vaccine and not enable avoidance behavior.” But it now adds, “For example, for extreme fear of needles (trypanophobia) or other cases of serious concern, responsible use of prescription medications and/or referral to psychotherapy may be available options.”

Greenfield says the statement “specifically refers to trypanophobia, which is a disorder recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, in which (among the potential symptoms) a patient may faint at the mere thought of a needle.”

The Epoch Times asked Greenfield if the updated CPSO guidance, which states doctors should refer vaccine-anxious patients for psychological help, applies only to cases of trypanophobia.

“The DSM-5 establishes the criteria necessary to diagnose a patient with trypanophobia and our College has no role in establishing the clinical criteria for such a diagnosis. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and I am aware of no instances in which a Canadian physician is suggested to be treating a patient in the manner suggested,” said Greenfield.

Reporting from The Epoch Times.