UPDATE: the AFL has issued an official apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and the AFLPA.
“The AFL apologises to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and staff and the AFLPA for not providing sufficient clarity around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players receiving a pneumococcal vaccination ahead of entering Queensland and for any distress this has caused them and their families,” the statement read.
“The AFL acknowledges it could have obtained and shared more information from the Queensland Government health authorities regarding the vaccination including the underlyinghealth safety benefits and that it can improve its processes in providing information to support club doctors in ensuring cultural safety in provision of health to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“The AFL is committed to working closely with the AFLPA and the players, our clubs and our doctors to resolve the situation.”
PREVIOUSLY: The AFLPA have expressed their shock and concern after the Queensland Government deemed a pneumococcal vaccination mandatory for Indigenous players in order to enter the state.
With Victoria experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus, the AFL looks set to relocate all Victorian clubs to Queensland for the foreseeable future.
As part of Queensland’s strict biosecurity protocols, all players and staff were required to get flu vaccinations in order to play in the state, which was agreed to by the AFLPA.
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However, the state government has now decided that players of Indigenous heritage must get the pneumococcal vaccination in order to continue the season.
The current national immunisation program dictates that the vaccination is mandatory for Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islanders who are children or over 50, but there had been no stipulated guidelines for those in the AFL players’ age bracket.
This has stunned AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh, who revealed that they were only made aware of the issue in the past 48 hours and would be advising their players of their available rights and options.
“In the past 48 hours the AFLPA has become aware of Indigenous players being required to have pneumococcal vaccinations prior to entering AFL High Performance Centres (Hubs),” he said in a statement.
“We are very concerned about this issue and since becoming aware of it, we’ve had various conversations with players and the AFL, and are in the process of gathering more information to inform what actions we may take.
“The fact that these vaccinations were not discussed with the AFLPA as part of the return play protocols or otherwise, is a significant issue we have raised with the AFL.
“We are now working directly with players to ensure they understand their rights and options available to them regarding any requested vaccinations.”
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