A Fraser Valley doctor may be investigated by the College of Physicians for giving the Abbotsford Heat — the farm team for the Calgary Flames — the H1N1 vaccine, jumping the queue meant for at-risk patients.
Dr. Perry Kendall, the province’s health officer, said the team was not given permission to get early access to the shot.
“I can understand a team physician trying to protect their team,” he said. “(But) the vaccine is scarce and we’re trying to focus on people with underlying health conditions.
“I can discuss (the matter) with the College of Physicians,” Kendall said, adding there are no legal consequences to doctors for circumventing the rules.
The news of the Heat being vaccinated came the same dame day a senior health-care worker in Calgary was fired for inoculating some of the Calgary Flames, their families and management.
Alberta’s health minister, Ron Liepert, said the firing sends a message that favouritism won’t be tolerated.
A countrywide shortage of the vaccine has kept thousands of Canadians in long lines at H1N1 clinics, and many people have been sent home because doses had run out.
In Alberta, the vaccination program was shut down on Saturday because demand so badly exceeded supply. It will resume today for children, and on Friday for pregnant women.
In British Columbia, the situation hasn’t been as dire, but there is still a shortage of the vaccine and increasing absentee rates in hospitals and schools.
Kendall said during the two- to three-week peak —about now — businesses could see absentee rates of up to 25 per cent.
“We’re asking businesses for leniency where employee absenteeism is concerned,” he said. “We really don’t want people at work … spreading viruses around.”
He suggested businesses find ways for staff to work from home, when possible.
With files from The Canadian Press