West Coast and Fremantle are confident they will meet the AFL’s February 18 vaccination deadline for players and football staff in the wake of the league making a no jab no play policy official for the 2022 season.
Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett confirmed that “a couple” of people were likely to require further education and information on the vaccinations before they went ahead with them but he believed the vaccination mandate released on Thursday would help that process.
“We are in pretty good shape,” he said. “The vast majority have had one shot and we are well on the way to having most people double vaccinated, so it is going well. Our expectation is that we will hit most of the deadlines.”
Fremantle counterpart Simon Garlick said the Dockers were on track to comfortably meet the deadlines.
“I don’t envisage that any of our players will go unvaccinated prior to the season,” he said. “The vast majority of ours are fully vaccinated now and a small amount are still to get their second doses.”
Nisbett said the AFL mandate would give the club a clear focus on the issue: “As we zero down now and there is a mandate we can now work on some individuals if they are still reluctant or they need more information. We will work with those people.”
He was not aware of anyone at the club likely to be a conscientious or ethical objector to being vaccinated. Those expressing some reluctance were asking for more information, he said.
“I think it has been more about education and research and they have been working through that. Now we can give them some definitive steps they need to reach so they are all back at training and vaccinated at that time,” he said.
Under a three stage vaccination rollout for the league, players and football staff at West Coast and Fremantle must be fully vaccinated by February 18 2022.
Stricter deadlines will be imposed for Victoria and New South Wales, reflecting workplace vaccination regulations in those states.
An AFL statement said the policy “reflects the AFL’s strongly held view that as the governing body of the sport, we share responsibility to address the risk of exposure to COVID-19 of our Players and Football Program Staff, and in delivering upon this responsibility, TGA approved vaccines offer the best possible protection in keeping our people safe, healthy and together.”
“Further, it provides our sport the opportunity to recover from the COVID-19 interruptions that have beset both the AFL and AFLW competitions in these past two years.”
The first stage, already in effect in Victoria under the state government’s Authorised Worker Vaccination Mandate requires players and football program staff of Victorian Clubs to have had their first dose now and be fully vaccinated by November 26 before they can attend their clubs to start or continue their pre-seasons.
Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney must have had their first vaccination dose by November 19 and be fully vaccinated by December 17 ahead of likely scheduled practice matches and the AFLW season commencing in January 2022.
Players and football staff in WA, South Australia and Queensland must have received a first dose by January 21 next year and be fully vaccinated by February 18 in advance of likely scheduled practice matches in late February 2022 and commencement of the season in March 2022.
“Under the Policy, the scheduled dates for the stages can change by agreement between the AFL and AFLPA if there are changes in relevant Government mandates or in the COVID-19 levels in relevant States,” the statement said.