Vaccine inequity between countries is reflected in NHL

Hockey: - 09-04-21

 The New York Rangers have given their players, coaches and staff a day off so they can get vaccinated against COVID-19.


“We are very lucky to be able to get this vaccine,” said defender Jacob Trouba.

With vaccinations topping three million a day in the United States, the NHL is in a more difficult situation than the other big leagues: seven of its 31 teams are based in Canada.

As the NFL, NBA, and Major League baseball relax protocols when a certain percentage of a club is vaccinated, the NHL faces a serious outbreak in the Canucks.


There is also the inequity in the number of doses of the vaccine in Canada, compared to the United States.

“It all depends on government guidelines. It's out of our control, ”said Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, an American.

Like many other countries, Canada relies on the global supply chain for vaccines.

A high number of doses are expected to be available by July.

But for the time being, cases are on the rise, and the National League is not immune.

The Canucks have reported that 21 players and four staff have contracted the virus and another is in close contact.

Team doctor Jim Bovard spoke of a "stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and the seriousness of its impacts, even in healthy young athletes."

From January 13 to March 31, players from Canadian teams represented only 103 of the 1,361 names on the NHL roster, in connection with pandemic protocols.

But since 1 st  April they represent 115 of the 135 bodies, including 23 of 25 Wednesday.

About a third of Americans have received at least one dose, and 19.4% of people are fully vaccinated. In Canada, the proportion for the same categories is 11.91% and 1.76% (as of Thursday).

"There is nothing we can do about it except wait our turn," summed up Swedish forward Mikael Backlund of the Flames.

The Associated Press asked the 31 NHL teams how many players, coaches and staff were partially or fully vaccinated, and if anyone had refused a vaccine. No organization provided specific details.

NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly said the league "monitors, but (vaccination) is essentially team-by-team and market-to-market."

In conjunction with the league, the Players Association has sent a memo to members and is working to educate them about vaccination.

President Joe Biden has set April 19 as the deadline to make all people 16 years of age and older in the United States eligible for the vaccine.

The NFL, NBA and MLB have incentives that relax the rules, including mask wearing, once a percentage of staff are fully immunized.

Rod Brind'Amour walks past a large vaccination site every day, near the PNC Arena.

The 50-year-old Canadian, however, is well aware that the situation is not the same in his home country.

“You're just hoping everyone can get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said the Hurricanes coach.