Publish Date: 21/10/2021
Fact checked by: Megan Jonson
The AFL has this week announced its rules for next season regarding players’ Coivd-19 vaccination status. Their stance is one that is both clear and firm - if the players don’t go and get the jab, then they won’t be permitted to play or train.
The policy is to be implemented across the whole league and means that all AFL plays will have to have both doses of the Covid-19 vaccination by February 18 2022 if they want to play next season.
Without a medical certificate confirming their fully vaccinated status, players will not be able to enter their club premises or any official AFL league premises.
The league has worked with the players’ association to create this league-wide policy that brings players from all states into line. The idea is to have all players’ vaccinated before pre-season matches begin.
With the measures having just been confirmed, it’s early days yet, and so more comments are expected to appear in the coming days.
However, ahead of the policy being announced, Melbourne key position player Tom McDonald had voiced his opposition to forcing players to take the vaccine. Despite having had both jabs himself, McDonald is of the opinion that it would be “ethically wrong” to force players to take the vaccine.
McDonald did, however, state that he does support a mandatory vaccination for health and care workers, but not professional athletes.
Australia as a whole now has 58.2% (14m) of the population fully vaccinated. This means that despite a slow start, the country is on track to catch up with the countries leading the charts in terms of vaccination uptake, which includes Canada, Italy and Spain, all of which have over 70% of their residents fully vaccinated.
Essentially, yes, it has been the first to implement a league-wide policy on full vaccination. However, some other sports leagues throughout the world have taken measures to drive vaccination uptake.
The best example of influencing vaccination uptake without enforcing it has come from the English Premier League. Back in early September, only seven out of the 20 clubs in the league had over 50% fully vaccinated players.
However, the latest data now shows that 68% of players in the league are now fully vaccinated, while 81% of players have now had their first dose.
The sharp uptick has been attributed to a strong drive in informative messages from UK government health professionals, as well as global travel rules. The Premier League has a large number of overseas players, who are required to travel when on international duty.
Multiple reports coming out of the US have suggested that anti-vaxx information is being spread heavily throughout the NBA. This has prompted suggestions that some form of strong action could be taken, despite the 2021/22 NBA season being due to start this weekend.