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Former Crow loses vaccine challenge

Former Adelaide Crows player Deni Varnhagen has lost her court challenge to South Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Varnhagen, who is also a nurse, took her case to the SA Supreme Court after a declaration under the state’s Emergency Management Act required her to be vaccinated to work in the health system.

Her decision not to get the jab also resulted in the Crows placing her on their inactive list last season because of the AFL’s requirements for all players to be fully vaccinated.

The league removed that requirement in July this year.

In a judgment on Tuesday, Justice Judy Hughes found that after SA’s emergency declaration in relation to the pandemic was removed earlier this year, Varnhagen’s case became hypothetical and lacked utility.

In those circumstances, she said the action was dismissed.

Justice Hughes also ruled against Varnhagen on key questions of law related to the transfer of the vaccine requirements for health workers into public health laws.

She said that transfer, enacted by the SA parliament, was valid.

Varnhagen was initially joined in her action by five other people, another nurse, a childcare worker, a teacher and two police officers.

But only one of those, fellow nurse Courtney Millington, continued with the case.

During the Supreme Court hearings, Varnhagen argued that she was not able to make an informed decision regarding the effectiveness or the safety of any of the three COVID-19 vaccines available.

“I believe that, because of the directions, I am being left with no choice as to whether I receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” she contended.

“I believe that I am being coerced into doing so in order to keep my employment.”

The intensive care nurse told the court that she had not worked at Adelaide’s Flinders Medical Centre since November last year and had taken a job as a labourer to meet her expenses.

Ms Millington received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine but decided not to have a second after suffering an adverse reaction.

She sought an exemption on medical grounds, but it was refused.

Their legal team has indicated the court decisions will be appealed.

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