The AFL won’t mandate its players to have a flu vaccination ahead of the season resumption, leaving the decision up to footballers and club doctors.
- As football codes prepare to return to play after the coronavirus shutdown, the focus is on whether players agree to have this year’s flu shot
- While flu vaccination does not protect against COVID-19, it is designed to keep influenza numbers down during the pandemic
- The NRL has stood down a number of players who refused to have the flu shot
NRL players are required to either have the flu vaccination or sign waiver forms as rugby league works towards a planned May 28 season restart.
But the AFL maintains flu shots will be at the discretion of players and club staff, not a league-wide policy.
“While the AFL recommends players and officials to get a yearly flu shot, the decision is ultimately that of the player and club doctor as to whether they wish to do so,” an AFL spokesperson said.
On Friday morning, Gold Coast Suns captain David Swallow questioned whether flu vaccinations should be compulsory in the AFL if players weren’t comfortable with them.
“I’m not too sure it should be mandatory,” Swallow told reporters.
“Everyone is going to have their different beliefs and opinions on this matter.
“I don’t know whether we should be forcing them to do anything they wouldn’t be comfortable doing.
“I know others would have a different opinion on that, but that’s my opinion.”
The NRL had amended its original waiver form on Thursday after several players refused to sign it on religious or conscientious grounds.
On Friday, three Gold Coast Titans players, including Bryce Cartwright, were stood down by the NRL for refusing to take the flu shot, on the advice of Queensland health officials.
The other two players were believed to be Nathan Peats and Brian Kelly.
Peats later said on Twitter he was not anti-vaccinations and had avoided the flu jab due to an adverse experience while at South Sydney back in 2012 — but was now planning to have the shot.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison also backed any decision by state governments to apply a ‘no jab, no play’ policy to the NRL.