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Teams Reacting to Influenza 2009 style.

Jane Rickard

I'm nuts just ask anybody.

Last week ChicagoNow had a chance to talk to the coaches of both Chicago Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs on the same subject "what are you doing to help your teams stay healthy during this pandemic?"

First both teams have programs in place and are taking common sense measures. Every player has their own water bottle, no sharing allowed, separate towels, hand sanitizer rules the locker rooms. Each team has seen to it that every player has had a seasonal flu shot. Both coach Bill Peters of the IceHogs and Don Lever of the Wolves denied that there had been any players receiving H11N1 vaccinations due to high risk status. Coach Peters also said the Hogs would receive H1N1 vaccines when they became available. The second difference seems to be how ill players are treated on the road, the Wolves segregate ill players in their own rooms immediately the IceHogs do not.

These are all common sense responses, there is a shortage of H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine and it is still being given to"high risk" patients and their care givers in both Cook and Winnebago counties where both teams based. However, in Alberta the the Flames seem to be taking a more aggressive approach to the virus and prevention.

An internal investigation has been launched in the Alberta Health services asking why the Calgary Flames and their families received H1N1 shots provided by the Provincial Health Services at a private clinic. All while the citizens of Alberta were lining up by the thousands for vaccines and being turned away in droves. What appears to of happened is that a member of Calgary's medical staff approached the the first staff member at the public health agency to see if vaccines could be procured for the Flames and a clinic organized. This staff member quite properly sent the request to a more senior staff member who then took it to a supervisor for final approval. This is where the issue occurs, there is no written record of the approval for the clinic from the supervisor. Nor the 150 vaccines that were given out on Friday October 31st. As a result of the preliminary investigation two members of the Alberta Heath Services have been fired over the Flames vaccine clinic.

It is important to remember that when the Flames and their families received their vaccines Alberta was not restricting vaccines to"high risk" groups. pubic health clinics were being swamped by thousands looking for the vaccine and lines lasted for hours. Shortly after the Flame's clinic the H1N1 vaccine program was shut down and restricted to"high risk patients. This means on October 31, no pregnant women, diabetics or small children were bypassed, just basic Canadian citizens waiting in line. Health Board spokesman Roman Cooney stated in a Canadian Press report "The Flames had every reason to believe that the people involved were senior enough to have made that decision," he said. "The team thought it was ... following the appropriate channels."

The Flames management issued a comment explaining their position.

The American Hockey League affiliate the Abbotsford Heat confirmed that some of their players who were"high risk"were vaccinated at a public clinic by the team doctor. If a player has one of many medical conditions or lives with someone that does they are considered"high risk. It is proper that they should be vaccinated and if they stood in line like the rest of us a public clinic is the correct place for them to get the vaccine.

There is more to this story and it is unfolding in the provinces of Alberta and Ontario as it appears that members of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors may have also jumped the que and gotten vaccines. As the H1N1 vaccine shortage continues there are going to be more reports of questionable appropriation of vaccines. ChicagoNow will keep watch on the story. Mean while readers, if you are high risk get in line for your shots and everyone wash your 

hands !



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