Flames deny wrongdoing in flu flap

Flames captain Jarome Iginla answered reporters' questions yesterday about the team receiving H1N1...

Flames captain Jarome Iginla answered reporters' questions yesterday about the team receiving H1N1 flu shots at a private clinic without having to wait in line. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

BILL KAUFMANN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

The Calgary Flames did nothing underhanded to procure H1N1 vaccinations in the past week ahead of thousands of high-risk Albertans, club president Ken King said yesterday.

But despite that claim from the team, the province has launched an investigation into what officials say shouldn't have happened.

While King acknowledged a team doctor and the physician's nurse wife might have been a "point of contact" in seeking the vaccine which is in short supply in the province, King said nothing was done outside Alberta Health Services (AHS) auspices.

"I'm happy to confirm we would not have taken an illicit process," said King.

"It went through an Alberta Health Services process ... certainly we would not have taken anything in any way that wasn't authorized."

Health Minister Ron Liepert said the province has launched an investigation into what happened, adding he wants to know if the shots were "inappropriately diverted" to the hockey players while other Albertans stood in line for hours.

"There is only one supplier in the province and that's us," he said. "They would only be diverted with the approval of the chief medical officer of health."

But Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta's chief medical officer, said he was unaware of the team receiving any vaccine, noting none has yet been delivered to doctors' offices.

"We learned about it in the newspaper," he said, adding he could say little else because the matter's being probed.

Said Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta Health Services' chief medical officer: "It's unfortunate -- I can't defend it."

When asked in the legislature yesterday by NDP leader Brian Mason how professional hockey players could jump the queue past vulnerable children, Premier Ed Stelmach replied that, if true, he found it "deplorable."

A number of Flames players and executives, including King, received inoculations at a private location just before vaccination clinics were put on hold Saturday.

King has said the hockey players are at an elevated infection risk due to their physical contact and that they decided to receive the inoculations separately to avoid causing disruptions at clinics.

Team doctors did not return calls for comment.

BILL.KAUFMANN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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