VANCOUVER — While the focus at Vancouver Canucks practice Thursday was supposed to be on the impending return of sniper Daniel Sedin, much of the attention instead centred around a shot that had nothing to do with pucks.
British Columbia’s provincial health officer says members of the National Hockey League team jumped the queue when they received their H1N1 vaccinations earlier this week.
“If they got the vaccine and they weren’t in any of the risk groups as individuals then they were queue-jumping,” Dr. Perry Kendall said in an interview Thursday. “I don’t know why they queue-jumped because they only had to wait a few days.”
The H1N1 vaccine will be made available to all British Columbians on Friday.
H1N1 immunizations in B.C. have been restricted to people over six months of age with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, people living in isolated communities, health care workers, first responders, and healthy children and adolescents between six months and 18 years of age.
Last week, Health Canada gave clinics and doctors across the country the green light to start using doses of unadjuvanted H1N1 vaccine on the general public. But the final decision on when to do so still lies with individual provinces and territories.
When asked about the team’s decision Thursday after practice, head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters the Canucks had done nothing wrong.
“It was always our intention that once the vaccine was made available to the public that our players would have the opportunity to take it if they wanted it,” he said. “My understanding is it’s been made available to the public. That’s all I know.”
A team spokesperson wouldn’t say how many players were vaccinated or if the immunizations were made available to the rest of the team’s staff.
The Calgary Flames were heavily criticized last month when players and their families received the H1N1 vaccine while thousands of Albertans waited in lines that stretched for hours.
Two Alberta Health Services employees were eventually fired for helping set up the private clinic.
At the time the Flames’ clinic was held, the Alberta government was allowing anyone who arrived at mass public clinics to be given the shot.