FAQ: Where Australia's football codes stand on the flu vaccination

Australia's football codes have different stances on whether players should be getting the flu vaccination before a return to play. Here is the latest from each of the major codes.


The AFL has not imposed a policy on its players, instead, has deferred to club doctors as to whether or not players should be getting the jab.

"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 told ESPN late last week.

Gold Coast co-skipper David Swallow has said it should be a personal choice whether a player gets a flu jab, but with Queensland's announcement that players will not be able to train or play in Queensland without having received the shot, any team which plays in Queensland will obviously need to comply with state rulings.

On Wednesday, the Lions and Suns both confirmed all squad members were set to receive the flu shot due to Queensland's firm 'no jab, no play' mandate.


The NRL, in consultation with the Rugby League Players' Association, decided it would not force players to get flu vaccinations in order to play and train, but the league is facing hurdles from the Queensland Government, which has on Tuesday confirmed players must get the jab in order to train or play in the state.

The only reason an exemption will be granted, according to the state's chief health officer Jeannette Young, is on medical grounds.

"I sent a letter to the NRL yesterday in which I did exempt them for medical contrary indications, no different to the exemptions I provide for children who are attending child care or for people going to aged care so they have those same exemptions," Young confirmed on Tuesday.

"If they have got medical reasons for not being vaccinated (they will receive an exemption).

"If they have had an anaphylactic reaction to previous flu vaccine or any component of a flu vaccine, you do not need to be vaccinated so I have provided that exemption."


In Australia

There will be no mandatory flu shot for Australia's Super Rugby players, although it is recommended by Rugby Australia.

"We've always recommended the flu shot every year [but] we haven't mandated it in this situation. The vast majority of our players will take it, or have had it already, and the vast majority of our staff [as well]. That's our process," RA's Chief Medical Officer Warren McDonald said.

In terms of the Queensland Government's hardline status on vaccinations, RA's General Manager of Corporate Affairs Anthony French said: "Our return to play manual and the protocols and so on, and the return to training progression framework is currently with the Queensland Government's Chief Health Officer.

"We'll be dealing with Queensland Government on an individual basis so we will work with them...we will on an individual basis with each of the [state] governments and what they have to say. Our paper was submitted last week to the [Queensland] Government, we're awaiting further feedback or approval. We've been given the green light in three of the other states -- ACT, NSW and Victoria -- so we expect if not this afternoon, perhaps tomorrow [Tuesday], to have some feedback and ideally and approval from the Queensland Government."

It is unknown whether any Queensland Reds players have refused a flu vaccination, though the players are not currently engaged in official team training.

In New Zealand

New Zealand's Super Rugby players will return to action sooner than their Australian counterparts with a June 13 date confirmed for the start of their "Aotearoa" domestic competition. Unlike Australia, New Zealand has no state governments, leaving NZ Rugby needing only the approval of the New Zealand Government when it comes to their flu vaccination plan.

"Flu vaccination is another measure we can do to keep our players well during the winter," New Zealand Rugby's acting medical advisor Dr Deb Robinson said Monday. "Our recommendation is our players and management get flu vaccinated. But it is a personal choice and it's important they have informed consent, so we're going to ensure they are well educated because sometimes people's reluctance to get vaccinated still dates back to a concern they might get the flu from their vaccination.


ESPN has approached the FFA to clarify their stance on flu shots, but previously CEO James Johnson has said that the A-League will adhere to all government advice before resumption.

"We will continue to work collaboratively with the clubs and the players in relation to a return date for the Hyundai A-League. In particular, we are focused on being a reliable partner for Government and our decision of yesterday, which follows some very positive and informative discussions with government officials, reinforces this position," Johnson said.