Dean On Campus Blog

Vaccines: what are we teaching our students in the Faculty of Health Sciences?

Vaccination imageIn light of the media attention this week surrounding vaccines, I thought that this would be an opportune time to expand on what we, in the Faculty of Health Sciences, teach our students about immunization.

In FHS, we deliver education about immunization in our medical school, our nursing school, our school of rehabilitation therapy, our MPH program and in many of our residency programs, such as family medicine, paediatrics and public health & preventive medicine.

A guiding principle of our educational delivery is to provide current information to students, rooted in the scientific literature, and oriented towards informing evidence-based decision-making. We draw heavily on practice guidelines that emanate from recognized national organizations such as the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As I am not an expert in the area of vaccinations, I have reached out to faculty members who deal with these issues day in and day out. I have also reached out to our students.

Our head of the department of paediatrics, Dr. Robert Connelly, says that “vaccines are a safe, effective and important health measure for children; they are one of the most significant public health initiatives that we’ve had in the history of medicine. We reinforce this and teach this in our postgraduate pediatrics program. In our teaching, we focus on how to appropriately deal with vaccine-hesitant parents in order to address their concerns, and endorse the Canadian Paediatric Society’s approach to this issue.1

Within the School of Nursing, Cheryl Pulling, Associate Director of Undergraduate Nursing Programs, informs me that vaccination is addressed across many courses within the curriculum: Microbiology, Care of the Elderly and Children’s Nursing, to name a few. Students in our nurse practitioner program encounter teaching on immunization in the Therapeutics and Diagnostic courses. The content ranges from covering risks and benefits to vaccination recommendations for various age groups to the administration of the vaccines themselves. The school ensures that the curriculum is aligned with current clinical guidelines, and liaises with Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health on a regular basis for updates.

Much like in the School of Nursing, the Family Medicine Residency Program provides both a knowledge-based perspective and practical perspective in providing care for patients. “At all four of our sites, our family medicine residents are given didactic sessions on the importance of vaccination, and they are taught about relative risks of vaccinating vs. of not being vaccinated, and how the risks of not being vaccinated far outweigh the risks presented by the vaccinations themselves,” says Dr. Karen Schultz, Postgraduate Program Director for the department of family medicine. “In practice, it is our nursing colleagues who work with our residents to teach good injection techniques in order to ensure the safe administration of vaccines.”

In Dr. Heidi Cramm’s RHBS 822 course in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, students learn about the current vaccination evidence and discuss the anti-vaccination sentiment that remains residual in some of the broader community. “Public health continues to struggle with the reality that the scientific evidence for vaccination has not been fully disseminated and/or taken up across all community members,” says Dr. Cramm. “This is particularly important for clinicians who will work with children and families, especially when autism is present within families.”

In our undergraduate medical education program, we are guided by the Medical Council of Canada clinical presentations, which are distributed to courses within our curriculum. One such clinical presentation stresses that an important objective for our medical students is as follows: “Given an infant or child presenting to a physician, the candidate will be able to recommend an appropriate schedule of vaccinations, and discuss with parents the risks and benefits of vaccination.”

Our Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, Dr. Tony Sanfilippo, informed me that Dr. Lewis Tomalty teaches about how immunizations work in the Mechanisms of Disease course; Dr. Ian Gemmill teaches about vaccinations in a course on Population Health as does Dr. Richard Van Wylick in the undergraduate Paediatrics course. The issues in and around vaccinations are also brought up in our clinical skills course under the subsection of ‘difficult conversations’. Dr. Sanfilippo is confident that the Queen’s School of Medicine has a robust and evidence-based curriculum, taught by regional experts.

Our Aesculapian Society President Jonathan Cluett reported on behalf of a group of his student colleauges. “Our vaccination curriculum begins with the molecular science and expands to the epidemiological benefits and public health impacts. We are taught the process by which any new medication is meticulously tested to ensure safety before they are offered to the public. No medication is 100% safe, but vaccines – given that they will be provided to such a large population – are more rigorously tested than any other medication in Canada. Ultimately, Queen’s Medical students are taught that the recommendations for vaccinations are grounded in hard evidence and decades of highly scrutinized research.

Beyond these lectures, a significant portion of our curriculum is dedicated to learning the language of evidence-based medicine. We are taught how to critically analyze the information presented to us because it is essential that, as future physicians, we are able to use these skills in sifting through the noise to make the best choices for our patients. We must be able to look beyond singular pieces of research and instead, synthesize the results of one study in the context of other research on the same topic.”

Our medical students add, “when meeting with vaccine-hesitant families, we are taught that it is important to initiate discussions on vaccinations early in the newborn’s life and ascertain the parent’s major worries. It is crucial to engage in a thoughtful conversation, taking the time to address each concern. We are taught to educate the family on the rigorous process behind creating and testing vaccines, clearly review the risks and benefits, and provide them with real statistics to help put the risks in context. For example, whereas as many as 100 in 1,000,000 can die of a complication of a disease that is largely preventable through vaccination, only one in 1,000,000 will have a serious vaccine complication. The conversation about vaccinations is ultimately about doing what evidence shows is best for our patients’ health. Every part of our education is driven by this mission – to communicate clearly with our future patients, share accessible and reliable resources, and provide all the facts necessary for patients to be able to make the most informed choice.”

As Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, I believe that the issue of vaccination is serious business. For example, measles, which had been previously eradicated is now making a recurrence, and can have severe repercussions. In one in 10 cases measles can result in ear infections, in one in 20 it can result in pneumonia, and in one in 1000 it can result in encephalitis.2

Another important issue is that not every child in our population can be vaccinated; in a small number of paediatric conditions, vaccination is not advisable. This potentially puts those children, who for medical reasons cannot be vaccinated, at risk of contracting a disease that for the general population is preventable. Dr. Gerald Evans, Chair of the division of infectious disease, says “widespread immunization against vaccine preventable infections is arguably the greatest scientific and public health success of the last 100 years. A return to the dark ages of infection that existed before global vaccination through discredited and false beliefs about vaccine safety is in turn, our greatest public health threat.”

Our goal in the Faculty of Health Sciences is to equip our students with the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to be competent practitioners and compassionate healthcare advocates.

If you have any thoughts on this issue, comment on the blog…or better yet please drop by the Macklem House. My door is always open.



48 Responses to Vaccines: what are we teaching our students in the Faculty of Health Sciences?

  1. Mike McGrath says:

    Well said.

    • Tom Jones says:

      -Vaccines are not safe, well partly. A common sense approach.

      -The autism rate has sky rocketed to 1 in 68 kids now : see link

      -There is a 10 fold increase in kids food allergies and asthma.

      -Question? What are we dong different to babys that we never use to do 40 years ago?

      Am open to answers, but multiple vaccinations at birth is the only thing I can think of that we are doing different.

      It is widely known that big Pharma, the mostly profitable companies on earth will fight tooth and nail in every way imaginable to protect those profits. Google “drug companies corporate criminals”.

      -So the chance of your baby having autism or food allergy or asthma is now about 50/50 (that is a guess). Would it be a good idea to wait until the child is 3 or 4 years old before giving him vacinations? And not give him so many of them. Remember it is a grand slam, every time big Pharma can get another vaccine into the group of shots given to every single child.

      – VAERS The US gov vaccine side effect reporting site shows 122 deaths last year and thousands of bad reactions. Yes these reports are not verified but people don’t put the reaction into this system unless they believe the reaction was caused by vaccines. And the CDC figures only 1% of adverse reactions get reported into system.

  2. Michael Blennerhassett says:

    We are encounter that uneasy interface between reality and “I wish it were so…” or “Could it be that…” with increasing frequency, from Gordie Howe’s stem cell therapy for stroke in Mexico on the news this morning, to the anti-vaccination activists.
    I teach the erroneous (and saddening) lack of relationship between the GI hormone secretin and autism in my GI course. Yearly, I show the ever-better studies proving lack of effect and every year, the continuing interest from the general public.
    Bottom line, it may be hard to prove that something works, scientifically, but it is much harder to prove lack of effect. This must be approached with understanding of scientific principles, and persistence.
    Remember the furor over power lines causing cancer? If you enter “Do power lines” into Google, guess what the auto-complete is? Yep, still there. Let’s not do that again over vaccines – the toll will be much worse.

  3. Susan Phillips says:

    Well put! For those who might want to read more about the science of vaccines and the anti-science of the anti-vaccine movement I recommend books by Paul Offit, an American MD (Infectious Diseases).

  4. Chapter 2 of my book “Tomorrow’s Cures Today?” is entitled “The Slaughter of the Innocents. Diphtheria.” It details the infant mega-deaths due to delay in implementation of vaccination for diphtheria. Hamilton in Ontario was a pioneer in this field, and by 1930 the mortality had been reduced to near zero. But the words of anti-vaccinationists such as George Bernard Shaw were highly influential and it took ten years for such immunization to begin in the UK.

    I remember to this day the nurses holding me down, kicking and screaming, when I was given the potentially life-saving jab in war-torn England in the early 1940s. A graph at the top of our John Austin Society webpage details the hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths in the 1930s (C:\Users\Donald\My Webs\Content\john_austin_society.htm).

    For more see: or

  5. Mandy says:

    Thank you. My 6 year old niece is receiving chemo treatment & relies on herd immunity to live a relatively regular senior kindergarter life – being able to attend school, go to birthday parties & public places is important for her well being. Thank you to those who immunize their children!!

  6. Kanji Nakatsu says:

    Richard: Thank you for addressing this so well and in such a timely manner. It is important for our faculty and for Queen’s.

  7. JH Coyle [Queen's Meds] says:

    We all have our thoughts re vaccination – – Personally I feel that the science of vaccination is well founded – – the problem – from my point of view – is [1] The frequency of injections – too close – thus not giving the immune system time to adjust – [2] the bundling of many together into one injection – thus putting a load on the immune system – [3] and the preservatives that have been added – – – – When people talk about their concerns with vaccination I wish that they would be more specific – for the above reasons – – – – JIM – –

    • A says:

      Numerous credible resources address your concerns. The CPS statement is a good starting point. Acquiring a better understanding of immunology may also be helpful for you.

      • reznickr says:

        Thanks you for your comment.


        • JH Coyle [Queen's Meds] says:

          R – – Received an email from a fellow Queen’s meds grad. – – He pointed out the I had missed a very important item – – There was a 4th concern – that of the manufactures – There have been many failures in this area – They have been granted immunity – from both prosecution and $ liability – – It is the hall mark of an excellent school that they freely embrace even the most controversial subjects and do not try to sweep them under the table, as the CPS has done for many years with all aspects of vaccination – – This blog gives you the avenue to approach even the most distasteful of subjects and encourage people to think out side of the rigid walls imposed by conventional medical education and practice – – How else can we ever hope to learn – – JIM – –

          • reznickr says:

            Dear Dr. Coyle,

            Thanks for your comments. I have tried, and will continue, to bring up challenging topics in my blog. I agree, we do learn through rigorous debate.


  8. Moira Browne says:

    Richard. Thanks for such an elegant, well-researched and timely post. As a front line family physician, it’s crucial that families receive information about the proven effectiveness and safety of vaccines, in a respectful way. And yes it’s also crucial that information be disseminated to students at Queen’s in a factual evidence-based manner. I had no doubt that the Faculty of Health Sciences was doing precisely that.

  9. Paul Rosenbaum says:

    At the end of the 20th century, not so long ago, I would never have guessed that it would be necessary to say these things. It seems to have become so. You have done an excellent job in addressing the issue.

    I was in grade 2 and was enrolled in the large clinical trial for the Salk vaccine. I think a year later I was given a certificate for having been a “Polio Pioneer”. I remember much earlier, in the years previous hearing my parents and other adults speaking with dread about “polio is coming” and “the polio season”. I imagined walking telephone poles attacking children. As a parent and as a grandparent I never had to share that terror about polio and many other communicable diseases. It is tragic that there are people prepared to refuse this gift.

    • reznickr says:

      Thanks Paul,

      Believe it or not, I also remember the “polio scare” and remember vividly images of the iron lung. What an incredible contribution vaccination has played in the medical history of mankind.


  10. David Munoz, MD says:

    Queen’s University School of Kinesiology and Health Studies course HLTH 102/3.0 description of the its objectives states: ” To help you appreciate that it is cumulative, long-term exposures to seemly harmless things that can ultimately affect your health. By the end of the course hopefully you will have an idea of what your “toxic load” is, and how this toxic load impacts your health and how you could reduce or attenuate it.”

    The statement is simply inconsistent with medical science. I am ashamed my Alma mater has been openly promoting anti-science propaganda until the dirt hit the media fan. Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians ans Surgeons are taught that their responsibilities extend beyond the care of their own patients. Is it too much to ask that Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences cannot remain silent on the topic of the “toxic” teaching in Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies?

    • H. Workman, MD says:

      Agree that it is shameful – and even embarrassing – that this course was offered at Queen’s. Enjoy reading the many thoughtful comments above and find the anti vaccine rants frustrating. Sadly though, studies looking at what will change attitudes on vaccine have found that ANY intervention – from informal discussions to videos to the presentation of evidence based papers – do nothing except deepen the resolve not to vaccinate. A large majority of the antivax movement have a ‘belief’ that vaccines are bad, and that the CDC and all organizations encouraging the vaccines are corrupt and disingenuous. I am not sure we will ever convince them – no matter what the evidence – that vaccines are safe and effective. I suspect the only step moving forward is to change policy to ensure that children in schools, camps, etc are vaccinated (so long as no medical contraindication exists). I know that, with my immune suppressed daughter who cannot receive all of her vaccines, I would sleep better at least knowing that she was not likely to be exposed at any publicly funded institutions. Oh yes – and clearly we should only offer scientifically sound and evidence based information at our Universitiy so that we truly can be recognized for “exceptional quality of undergraduate and graduate students and programs in the arts, sciences and professions”… stated in our Mission Statement.

      • reznickr says:

        Thanks Dr, Workman.

        I agree that we need to continue to push evidence-informed decision making. As you imply, the whole are of knowledge translation is challenging, indeed.


  11. Bill Moore Meds ''62 says:

    Richard, thank you so much for all that Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences is doing for students and so quickly responding to irresponsible allegations about vaccinations promulgated by the press (In Canada I assume, and here in the uS). I received your 2/4/15 e-mail and Principal Woolf’s Statement regarding HLTH 102 and was confident that you would communicate more.

    As I recall, few vaccinations were available while I was at Queen’s, but what I learned taught me to have high regard for principles of public health, later get a Master of Public Health degree, and keep prevention in mind throught my career.

    I applaud Queen’s FHS as it maintains evidence-based teaching and counters current and all future medical myths.

  12. Kathleen Nolan says:

    There has been a lot of negative press regarding Queen’s this week. The informed, well-articulated comments from students that you have shared highlight the fact that the students continue to be what makes QMed (and the Queen’s community in general) great.

  13. robert prentice (dept. of pathology-- retired) says:

    Dean Reznick,
    A fine summary of the status of vaccination, but it is addressed to the convinced. I hope you have or will offer it to the appropriate ‘media’. As well, Principal Woolf should be encouraged to make public the action he has taken regarding course HLTH 102. This is not an issue to be delayed or be subject to ‘correctness”.
    Bob Prentice

  14. Thandie Ryan says:

    This is a well put and much appreciated response. It is unfortunate that this course has been allowed to use a label including “health” and then left to disseminate “information” without any respect for evidence and the rigorous guidelines followed by the faculty of health sciences in their teachings.

  15. Dale R Loewen,MD,MSc.,FRCPC(Community Medicine).(Meds'66) says:

    Melody Torcolacci puts out the valid challenge,”No scientific evidence that vaccines are not contributing to increased incidence of chronic illness and disability in children.”This is attacking the current “Holy Grail” of Public Health,a sacrosanct arena,that only must be bowed to,to be “politically correct.”!.It is like a Vatican bishop challenging the validity of the eucharist!”Vaccines are the ultimate justification for the overall brilliance of modern medicine!”
    Professor Mackenzie(Public Health) at UBC in the late seventies taught me,”Its mains and drains my boy,not vaccines or anything else.”Clean water and wastewater,nutrition,fresher food,less poverty etc. are the pillars of public health!
    From a vaccine researcher,I learned,SV40 monkey virus in polio vaccines showing up many years later in brain tumors,Simian Cytomegalovirus and acanthamoeba in polio vaccine,various chicken viruses in Rimavex measles vaccine,Simian foamy virus in rotavirus vaccine,bird cancer viruses in MMR vaccine,dangerous enzyme inhibitors in several,dog and rabbit viruses in rubella vaccine,avian leucosis virus in flu vaccine,pertivirus in MMR vaccine.He relates careless errors with all sorts of contaminants from human hair to aborted human fetal tissue and unidentified protein.None,or very little, testing has been done to assess the contaminants from vaccine manufacture.It’s a game of roulette.He was told not to worry,it cant be helped.All of the animal and human refuse,the biological contaminants,does not even mention the chemical toxins used like thimerosol(mercury),formaldehyde,aluminum etc.That vaccines intricately stimulate the immune system to create immunity from disease is a faulty premise.The immune system is much larger and more involved than just antibodies and their related killer cells.(entire body)A 13 y-o boy died in Ontario from cytokine storm,an exaggerated immune response in the lungs from the adjunct in H1N1 flu vaccine,in 2010.Three people in one family I saw had this vaccine.All became very ill.The son died,the wife received a severe and crippling Guillan-Barre complication and the man recovered.
    No long term studies are done on any vaccines.Long term followup is not done in any careful way.Why?Because they start from the assumption that vaccines don’t cause long term problems.(Drugs go through far more stringent approvals than vaccines and many of them are still harmful!) All bad reactions are defined within a time frame soon after the shot is given.That makes no sense.It is not politically correct to question vaccines! I am convinced that vaccines ultimately weaken the immune system and are more harmful than beneficial.The burden of proof in establishing safety and efficacy of vaccines is on the medical cartel who make them not the public.Well designed long term studies with followup are needed.These things have not been done and are not there!They will answer the very astute question by Melody above.She is right and is to be applauded for challenging,at extreme risk to herself,the vested interests in traditional public health.I would condemn any process to put MELODY TORCOLACCI down or remove her freedom of expression unless you can truthfully answer her question and show her the scientific evidence she claims is not there and ,in fact,IS NOT THERE! She comes from a valid challenge and is presenting it to the students in an excellent way to pursue their own answers.EVIDENCE BASED IS WHAT YOU WANT,SO WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE TO ANSWER THE CHALLENGE SHE PUTS FORTH?
    I once challenged the public health value of abortion(killing of the unborn)which really is playing God over the life of another and hurting the rest of the community with major wrongdoing before God.He is merciful and waits but eventually judges a society who continues as history proves and will again.Shortly after receiving an excellent job appraisal as an MOH,I was relieved of duties and have not practised it formally since,but I can sleep.All that is necessary for evil to triumph over good is for good people to do nothing.What Melody is doing is good in spite of the mostly misinformed and misguided non medical and medical voices to the contrary and the EVIDENCE for that is there!God Bless!

    • reznickr says:

      Dear Dr. Loewen,

      Thanks for your comments. As has been mentioned before, the Principal has asked the Provost to investigate this situation. In the Principal’s message, he stressed the following, with which I agree: “The university is committed to the academic freedom of our faculty members; at the same time, the university expects that faculty members will present intellectually rigorous research and course material and that they will present available scientific evidence objectively and declare their biases”. It will be important that we allow the Provost adequate time to analyze the situation.

      Thanks for your views,


    • Bob Prentice, Queen's BSc Eng. '85 says:

      It would seem that a deity has been introduced into the discussion. Thus the scientific and statistical realities have been discounted by the usual ‘absolutes’ of religion. Debate becomes moot.

      • Dale loewen says:

        Bob,you have misinterpreted the “deity’ bit.This is an analogy using a” religious absolute” not open for debate, to show how some regard vaccines as an absolute also,not to be challenged in any way.Some of the comments up there bear this out
        ,such as Dr.Workman’s where he “finds the anti-vaccine RANTS frustrating”.He then calls for”scientifically sound and evidence based information at our university”.However,he makes no mention of such evidence proving vaccines cause no harm?Physician,first,do no harm?!Vaccines do harm and they do kill.I have seen it.This has to be much more comprehensively examined before flippant statements claiming “the unequivocal safety and efficacy of vaccines”are thrown out there by educated people who know better.

      • reznickr says:

        Dear Bob,

        Thanks for your views. Your perspective is appreciated.


    • Older says:

      Dear Doctor Loewen:

      Using the argument ,”No scientific evidence that vaccines are not contributing to increased incidence of chronic illness and disability in children.” defies scientific logic. Similarly, no scientific evidence exists that broccoli does not cause Alzheimer.

      Whiel you have a valid point that more research is needed on vaccines, it does not make Ms. Torcollacci teaching methods more accceptable.

  16. David Rosenbaum says:

    Why does the Dean say nothing about what is being taught in the HLTH 102 course? My son took that course two years ago. When he told me recently what he had been taught, not just about vaccines but also about other substances that the teacher claims are harmful, I was shocked. I cannot believe that any institution of higher learning, let alone one of the quality and reputation of Queen’s, would tolerate such material being taught in its classrooms. And in a science course no less! I feel that the money I spent on that course was wasted. Also, I have a hard time believing that these recent revelations come as a surprise to the administration. Apparently students have been complaining about this course for years. Queen’s owes its students, and the public, an explanation and, quite frankly, an apology.

    • reznickr says:

      Dear David, Thanks for your comments. As has been mentioned before, the Principal has asked the Provost to investigate this situation. In the Principal’s message, he stressed the following, with which I agree: “The university is committed to the academic freedom of our faculty members; at the same time, the university expects that faculty members will present intellectually rigorous research and course material and that they will present available scientific evidence objectively and declare their biases”. It will be important that we allow the Provost adequate time to analyze the situation.


      • older says:

        One of my daughters is Queen’s graduate, and another did premed at Queen’s. I have always the highest opinion of the University. This unfortunate case of unqualified instructor teaching gibberish instead of science truly appalled me. More needs to be done than investigation by Provost.
        It is evident that University has not established controls in key areas, or that the controls failed. The areas include but are not limited to:
        – academic credentials of teaching staff
        – ensuring quality of curriculae and course contents
        – addressing student;s complinta
        – addressing broader public concerns (e.g. officers of public health).
        The University needs a comprehensive audit of policies and procedures, preferably by an independent body.
        Anna Brockhausen

        • reznickr says:

          Thank you for your comments. I am confident that the Provost’s analysis of this situation will include the issues you raised.


  17. Don Braden, M.D FRCPC says:

    An interesting presentation by a student that took the course in question appeared in the Whig Standard today. Quite a different perspective on the course than earlier media gave. D.H.Braden

  18. paul rosenbaum says:

    Yes, but she spoke about “both sides” of the issue. are there two sides? The science is unequivocal

  19. Gary Reynolds says:

    Hello all, I appreciate reading the comments that have be posted thus far.

    While the University states it’s commitment to the academic freedom of the faculty members, the key question to me in this case is whether the faculty member in this case is qualified to “present available scientific evidence objectively”?

    I have just learned today (after several days of trying to find out) that Ms. Torcolacci’s academic background is a B.A. in Physical Education (Queen’s 1985) and a M.A. in Sport Sociology (Queen’s 1994). While I do not know what the exact curriculum was in this two degrees, I would highly doubt that they contained enough medical science to qualify an opinion on the science of vaccinations; if so, one has to wonder why she was permitted to present this subject matter.

    Furthermore, this current controversy has raised the question as to why the academic credentials of all professors, lecturers, etc. are not posted on the Queen’s website as a matter of standard procedure. How else can students review the academic qualifications of their potential lecturers? I raised this question with Principal Woolf earlier today and am awaiting a response.


    Gary Reynolds
    MBA 1981

    • reznickr says:

      Dear Gary,

      Thanks for your comments. As mentioned, Principal Woolf has asked our Provost to investigate the situation and explore the many factors at play. I believe it is important to allow this process to proceed.


  20. Gary Reynolds says:


    To clarify, Ms. Torcolacci’s academic credentials can be seen on her Linkedin profile but they are not shown on the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies’ website.

  21. Amanda says:

    I finally had an opportunity to see the full set of slides (which are posted on the Globe and Mail’s website), and they are concerning. There were many red flags that should have been raised prior to the past few weeks such as the course description referring to “toxic load”, the lack of reputable course readings, complaints by students and potentially other faculty. While presenting the idea that patients may be seeing and believing dubious sources is legitimate (I used Q Ray bracelets as my example of junk health claims), the slides clearly show that the professor shares many of these beliefs herself. Questions about the professor’s academic credentials are also criticisms of Queen’s, where she earned both these degrees. Students in all disciplines need to be information literate and have a solid understanding of how to evaluate evidence. Any inquiry should look not just at one course or professor but should take a deeper look at how we ensure all students, regardless of discipline, receive an education of the highest quality that enables them to evaluate the information they receive. Citing, or should be obvious problems. Understanding why Dr. Sherri Tenpenny’s YouTube channel may not be a credible source, while the CDC’s YouTube channel is, requires a level of information literacy that it appears students in this course are not receiving.

    Of course, to be fair I should reveal my own biases. The information literacy curriculum is well established in the Faculty of Health Sciences. My colleagues across campus do not enjoy the same level of inclusion in the curriculum. Perhaps this incident will help ensure it isn’t taken for granted.

    • reznickr says:

      Dear Amanda,

      Thanks for your comments. As mentioned, The Principal asked the Provost to review the matter. In due course, I am confident that the issues you raised will be addressed. In the meantime, I trust the blog has clarified our approach in FHS.


  22. There is mounting evidence that media accounts of Ms. Torcolacci’s vaccination lectures and credentials are accurate. Given this, our Provost should consider the interpretation advanced by Professor Mercier in The Star (Toronto, Feb 10). She suggests that Queen’s “hires phys-ed coaches, expecting them to do things they are not qualified to do.” But there are many exceedingly well qualified Professors in the Medical School who could have given the required lectures. Why the disconnect?

    An issue of the Whig Standard that reported on the matter (Feb 10) also contained an article by QMI Agency reporter, Jonathan Sher. He tells how concerned was a medical school Dean (Michael Strong, UWO) that his research faculty were spending so much time writing grant applications, instead of attending to their research and other duties. Indeed, given low success rates, many faculty will admit to spending a least a third of their time in this manner.

    Simply put, if there are 90 members in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, then, because of grant writing there are effectively only 60 available at any one time to engage in full-time teaching, research and administration. Could this have contributed to the neglect of Health 102?

    • reznickr says:

      Dear Dr. Forsdyke,

      Just so there is clarity, our DBMS faculty do not have teaching responsibilities in the School of Kinesiology, wherein the course was taught. As such the workload involved for our scientists is not a factor in the teaching assignments at hand.


      • Dear Richard,

        Thank you for the clarification. I, and I believe many others, have always considered the academic enterprise at Queen’s as a whole. Principals and Deans have long been trumpeting the need to break down inter-departmental barriers. During my teaching years I gave invited lectures in the Departments of Chemical Engineering, Computing Science and Biology. I did not seek, but always assumed, that the Deans were giving me some sort of credit for that. But perhaps not so?


  23. Dale Loewen says:

    OLDER(and wiser?)appears to want to reduce this to the “reductio ad absurdam”?In the face of multiple harmful factors in vaccines and harmful results from vaccines,the expedient undone thing appears to be to examine long term efforts to prove or disprove harm from vaccines,at least to the level of justification for their usage.I often hear such statements as “vaccines are unequivocally safe and efficacious”.This is pure hogwash because the required work has not been done for some reasons already given to prove their overall safety or even totally their efficacy.Broccoli,on the other hand,notwithstanding some of the GMO modern manipulations,is a natural food created by God,not the manipulations of men,and He does not feed us with foodstuffs that cause Alzheimers.Is it safe to assume that OLDER dislikes broccoli or has some evidence for a connection with Alzheimers that should be pursued?Forgive me,but Who is OLDER?

  24. H. Workman, MD says:

    I am curious if the Provost has had a chance to review this matter – and if so, what were the Provost’s findings? If not, what kind of timeline is to be expected?

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