Brendan Gallagher criticizes government for slow booster rollout

Gallagher was hit hard by the virus himself, and attributes that in part to having received his second shot over six months ago.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher criticized the government today for not rolling out booster shots more quickly. Currently only Quebecers over 65 are eligible for a booster, while Ontario and Saskatchewan are making shots available to anyone over 18 this week.

This morning Gallagher participated in his first practice with the team since exiting the NHL’s COVID protocol, having recently recovered from the pandemic, alongside teammate Sami Niku. Currently Habs forward Artturi Lehkonen and, as announced late this afternoon, centre Laurent Dauphin are in COVID protocol. In keeping with the NHL’s enhanced precautions, implemented last week due to Omicron, the Habs are now being tested for COVID daily once again.

Gallagher said he’s grateful that being double vaccinated prevents hospitalization because he was hit hard by COVID, albeit briefly.

“The first couple of days, I had some tough symptoms. I was just laying there fighting it. And then it was eight days of me with my thoughts and a little bit of boredom.”

While Gallagher reportedly doesn’t have any long-term effects from the virus and is feeling 100%, he is being monitored by the team’s doctors and tested regularly. He stated during the press conference that he and the rest of the team had their second doses six months ago, so the vaccine’s effectiveness isn’t what it was. He criticized our governments for not providing booster shots for the general population sooner.

“Obviously there’s some frustration with the way they rolled out the booster shots. It would’ve been nice if the governments were able to push these out sooner, but they’re not.”

Gallagher said that there was concern with the team heading to New York and New Jersey on Monday — a road trip that was officially postponed on Sunday evening. Were anyone to test positive for the virus while in the U.S., they theoretically would have been unable to get back into Canada for Christmas.

Laurent Dauphin is in COVID protocol and the U.S. trip has been postponed

Gallagher was also asked about the growing COVID outbreak across the NHL, which has resulted in postponed games and shut down teams, notably the Calgary Flames.

He addressed the possibility that the league might pause temporarily due to spikes in case counts and the spread of Omicron in the general population and in the league.

“We are having those conversations for sure. I can understand the NHL’s standpoint. We gotta get an 82-game season in, we have to. We knew that this was a possibility, and there are some points in the schedule where we’re going to be able to make up games. You don’t want to have to be playing in front of empty buildings like we had to do last game. If the answer is to take a couple of weeks off to be able to continue to play, obviously, but we don’t want to shut it down completely.

“We’re like everyone else in the world right now: we want to work. Everyone wants to feel that purpose and have that opportunity to go earn their paycheque every day.”

“(COVID) is just something you have to deal with. You can’t live in fear. This thing’s been around for two years so you just follow what you can to keep yourself safe, and trust everyone’s going to do the same.”

Brendan Gallagher criticizes government for slow booster rollout

This article was originally published at 3:25 p.m. and updated at 4:55 p.m.

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