AFL lifts COVID vaccine mandate for players

The AFL has removed its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, paving the way for exiled players to return to the top level.

Key points:

  • The league says players who were not fully vaccinated can “re-enter the AFL or AFLW system”
  • But it is “strongly encouraging” players and club staff to have their vaccination status up to date
  • The AFLPA supports the AFL’s decision

Players, coaches and club staff will no longer need two doses of an approved vaccine in order to train and play.

The move brings the league into line with government requirements that legislate only specific industries need employees to be fully vaccinated.

The league released a statement saying: “Those players who were not fully vaccinated and ineligible to play and departed their clubs as a result may now seek to re-enter the AFL or AFLW system.”

It said AFLW players who were not vaccinated but remained as inactive listed players, were “now eligible to be re-introduced” into preseason training.

St Kilda’s Georgia Patrikios did not play in the 2022 AFLW season, while Carlton’s Liam Jones and Brisbane’s Cam Ellis-Yolmen both left their respective AFL teams at the end of last year when the mandates were enforced.

But the league said it was “strongly encouraging” all AFL and AFLW players to have an up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination status, which included all recommended booster shots.

The updated position comes into play from today.

“The health and safety of our players, staff and the wider community has been one of the guiding principles governing the AFL’s ongoing response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” AFL executive general manager of football Andrew Dillon said in a statement.

Author: Ivan Robinson