November 30, 2015


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Flu Fight

Staffer fired after Flames jumped queue

EDMONTON -- Controversy raged Wednesday over the decision to release H1N1 vaccine to Calgary Flames players and their family members, as an Alberta health authority employee was fired, and the scandal grew to include a farm team for the NHL club.

The province's health authority announced it had fired the most senior staff member involved in the decision to give the Flames players and relatives the vaccine while many Albertans considered to be at high risk for contracting the virus, including small children, continued to be unable to get shots.

Meanwhile, it emerged that members of the NHL club's top minor league farm team had also received early shots.

"Like most Albertans, I am deeply offended that this circumstance has occurred," said a statement signed by Ken Hughes, Alberta Health Services' board chairman, and Stephen Duckett, the authority's CEO.

The statement was specifically about the firing of an employee identified as the most senior staff member involved in the Calgary Flames vaccination decision.

"AHS board and management have a fundamental commitment to serve all Albertans according to their needs, in medical priority. This circumstance was a clear departure from that principle. We set the expectation that this should not have happened and should not happen again," the statement said.

The name of the dismissed staff member was not released.

The scandal also moved west, as B.C.'s chief medical health officer blasted a decision to vaccinate members of the Abbotsford Heat, an American Hockey League team affiliated with the Flames.

Dr. Perry Kendall said a doctor's decision to vaccinate the hockey team against H1N1 was inappropriate and against provincial guidelines. He said there has been no directive to give priority vaccinations to professional or amateur sports teams ahead of those more at risk and he will be speaking with the doctor involved.

"I'd love to say it was an Alberta vaccine and it was a rogue doctor," Kendall said. "It was a recommendation by the team physician. I'm going to have a discussion with him, saying it wasn't appropriate."


-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2009 A6

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