H1N1, Hockey and Social Privilege

Last week, the Calgary Flames managed to obtain the much coveted H1N1 vaccine whilst supplies were running short and others more in need were made to wait. After this information became public, national outcry soon ensued. Many pointed to this as another example of celebrities receiving more favourable treatment than the rest of the Canadian populace. However, as  true as that may be, this story reflects an even deeper social issue. 

In short, the NHL team obtained the vaccine by the intermediary of a private clinic that, for whatever reason, received a shipment of it. And there lies the heart of the matter. Regardless of who receives blame in this fiasco, there is something inherently troubling about the fact that a private institution acquired the vaccine in the first place, especially when media and officials clamour incessantly about the significant public health risk this disease may pose. By allowing a private body to obtain the medication, the Canadian public were told in no uncertain terms that money not only purchases material wealth, but also health. Here, it wasn’t only the professional athletes who received preferential treatment, but all of those with deeper pockets. As for the not-so-affluent, they must simply patiently wait in line while supplies are depleted.