“It goes completely against our principles and priorities to vaccinate completely healthy ice hockey players before people who belong to one of the risk groups,” said Claes-Göran Björck, a local healthcare manager with Dalarna County health services, in a statement.
Björck’s criticism is directed primarily at Leksand team doctor Ronny Borelius, who ordered 50 doses of swine flu vaccine from the town’s local health clinic to vaccinate patients he claimed belonged to a specific risk group.
Instead, the doses were used to vaccinate players on the Leksand ice hockey team, as well as the team’s coaches.
Borelius defended his decision to the local Dala-Demokraten newspaper, however, arguing that the hockey players do in fact belong to a special risk group because they meet so many people.
“We have many asthmatics on the team with sensitive bronchi. They body check and sweat and there is a high risk for contagion,” he told the newspaper.
Borelius added that money also played a role in the decision, explaining that the team needs to have healthy players in order to compete.
Currently, Leksand is tied for first place in Sweden’s second highest ice hockey league, the Hockey Allsvenskan.
But the team doctor’s justification failed to sway local health officials, who threatened to take legal action.
“I can’t draw any other conclusion than that Borelius misled Leksand’s local clinic when he asked for the vaccine,” said Björck
“We’re now going to launch a thorough investigation into what happened, and if it is revealed that irregularities occurred we will consider taking legal action.”
Leksand’s decision to vaccinate its players has also drawn criticism from the National Board of Health and Weflare (Socialstyrelsen)
“That just can’t happen, we’ve gone out with clear guidelines that risk groups and medical personnel should be vaccinated first,” said the agency’s Anders Tegnell.