British Columbia

West Vancouver country club members call for removal of CEO who planned exclusive vaccine clinic

Members of West Vancouver's Hollyburn Country Club are calling for CEO Ed McLaughlin to be removed after it was revealed the club had planned an exclusive pop-up vaccine clinic for its members.

CEO wrote in email to members that AstraZeneca doses were meant primarily for front-line staff

A letter from members of the Hollyburn Country Club says the decision last week to offer a pop-up vaccination clinic for members demonstrated 'an unacceptable level of insensitivity.' (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Members of West Vancouver's Hollyburn Country Club are calling for CEO Ed McLaughlin to be removed after it was revealed the club had planned an exclusive pop-up vaccine clinic for members.

On Friday the government of B.C. cancelled the proposed clinic, which was advertised to members only, calling it "unacceptable." It also barred the pharmacy responsible for providing the doses of AstraZeneca from administering COVID-19 vaccines.

"In this incredibly trying time for all Canadians, the recent pop-up vaccination clinic scandal, which proposed bringing vaccinations from the Fraser Health Authority to Hollyburn members and staff, demonstrates an unacceptable level of insensitivity and misguided leadership that we believe is irresponsible and unacceptable," reads a letter and petition from members of the country club.

"There is simply no justification for Hollyburn members or staff to jump the queue ahead of any other Canadian and it is even more reprehensible, given the much more severe outbreak in the Fraser Health Authority, that vaccination spots be taken away from communities or individuals in need."

Indigo Pharmacy, located in New Westminster in the Fraser Health Authority, was set to run the clinic on Monday, though the West Vancouver country club is located in the Vancouver Health Authority. The Fraser Health Authority is currently a hot spot for COVID-19 cases in B.C.

The petition also calls for any board members aware of the proposed clinic to be removed, and for an apology to be issued to the public, the province of B.C., and the club's members.

CEO says doses were intended for staff

McLaughlin, CEO of the country club where initiation fees start at over $40,000, sent an email on Thursday to members inviting them to register for a vaccine appointment by sending an email with personal information including a member ID.

He later emailed CBC News saying the clinic had been cancelled "upon receiving advice from the health authority."

On Saturday, McLaughlin sent another email to members saying the intention was to vaccinate front-line staff at the club. In B.C., front-line staff prioritized for the AstraZeneca vaccine include teachers, first responders, grocery store workers, child care staff, quarantine officers, and staff working in warehouses, among others.

"Hollyburn offered no compensation to the pharmacist and no vaccines would have been offered to members if the available vaccines had been fully used by staff," he wrote.

"Given the current environment in which everyone is anxious to receive a vaccine, we understand the concern that has been expressed about offering a clinic that is not available to the general public. We apologize for having organized the clinic without full consideration of this."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Ghoussoub

@MichelleGhsoub

Michelle Ghoussoub is a journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. She has previously reported in Lebanon and Chile. Reach her at michelle.ghoussoub@cbc.ca or on Twitter @MichelleGhsoub.

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