H1N1 – Looking After Number One?

hockeyWith H1N1 upon us, the vaccine scarce, and distribution sluggish, the true scope of this illness is finally presenting itself. The symptoms are selfishness, presumptuousness, delusions of grandeur and bad manners. More serious illness can come with dishonesty – and this presentation is becoming more prevalent. Decisions about who should have priority for a potentially life-saving vaccine should not be difficult. They are based on facts. In my opinion, these should be medical facts like pre-existing health, and known risk factors. But there’s also the argument that inherent value to society is a legitimate consideration. It is for this reason that healthcare workers have been encouraged to the front of the vaccination lines. But beyond the delivery of medical care at a time of medical crisis, there are many other people whose services might be considered essential by some. What about professional hockey players? This guest editorial from sports journalist Bob Babinski touches on the complexities of pandemic priorities.

Fanning the Flames with a Swine Flu Controversy: Skaters Jump the Queue Foregoing Transparency

By Bob Babinski

A senior staffer of Alberta Health Services has been fired . The Calgary Herald newspaper is receiving messages from hockey fans who say they’ll no longer support the Calgary Flames. And the government in Alberta continues to ask questions about how health department officials last week released coveted supplies of the H1N1 vaccine to inoculate Flames hockey players, their families, and other team personnel.Read More »

Should I Get the Shot? The H1N1 Vaccine Dilemma

By Kate Johnson  –   November 1, 2009

As a medical journalist in Montreal I’ve been fielding calls from friends and family in other parts of the country, asking my advice on whether they should get the H1N1 vaccine. While I am still waiting here, the decision is upon them.

I am not a doctor, I remind them. We’ve already heard our doctor’s advice, they say.

And yet they are still unsure. Why?

It has to do with trust.Read More »

Americans – if any of you don’t want your H1N1 shots, can we Canadians have them?

By Kate Johnson – October 17, 2009


Next week I head into the four-day World Congress on Diabetes in Montreal, where delegates will be sharing a lot more than just information. Spreading silently through the air ducts will be a variety of airborne viruses, including seasonal and H1N1 influenza. Some American, Australian and Chinese delegates will arrive fully vaccinated against these things, but I and my fellow Canadians remain unprotected.

Normally at this time of year I get the seasonal flu shot because I have asthma which often deteriorates into bronchitis or pneumonia. But this year no seasonal flu shot has materialized – and it may not be available until January, my neighborhood pharmacist tells me. Meanwhile, the H1N1 shot may be available in 2 or 3 weeks, according to the latest reports.

This doesn’t help me much.

Read More »

Swine Flu – Getting a Grassroots Grip

By Kate Johnson

As headlines flicker and experts bicker over the science, politics and economics of swine flu policies, let’s not forget that we, the populus are not helpless and defenseless against this threat.

While we wait for national and international action, perhaps the most significant weapon against swine flu is already in our hands. But using it effectively will require a group effort – a grassroots mentality that reaches beyond our normal comfort zone.

With back-to-school and the second wave of the swine flu both looming – on a collision course ahead of us – as a mother and a medical reporter, I am worried.Read More »