AFL players and staff will not be permitted to take part in the 2022 season unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Key points:

  • Victorian AFL/AFLW players and staff need to be vaccinated by November 26
  • NSW players and staff need to be fully immunised by December 17
  • The deadline for QLD, SA and WA players and staff is February 18

Victorian-based players and staff will need to have had both vaccination doses by November 26, a date set for all authorised workers by the Victorian government.

The policy covering AFL and AFLW players and staff was released by the AFL in conjunction with the AFL Players Association (AFLPA).

“The policy reflects the AFL’s strongly held view that as the governing body of the sport, we share a 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.

The statement said the vaccine policy provided the sport with the opportunity to recover from the COVID-19 interruptions that have beset both the AFL and AFLW competitions in these past two years.

“The policy strongly encourages all persons in the AFL industry to be vaccinated as soon as they are practicably able to be. The AFL acknowledges and thanks the industry for the levels of vaccination that have already been achieved.”

Players and staff in NSW will need to be fully dosed by December 17 in advance of expected practice matches and the AFLW season’s start in January 2022.

All remaining AFL players and staff in WA, SA and Queensland will need to be fully immunised by February 18 before likely scheduled practice matches in late February and the start of the season in March.

Players and staff who fail to comply with the vaccination policy will not be able to attend club or AFL premises to train or play.

Health and safety AFL’s ‘guiding principle’

“In short, they will not be able to perform their contracted services for their clubs,” the AFL statement said.

Players who do not comply with the policy and do not have an approved medical exemption face being transferred to the inactive player list, face a salary cut or be terminated with the player’s agreement.

AFL executive general manager football and general counsel Andrew Dillon said the health and safety of players, staff and the wider community was a guiding principle governing the AFL’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AFL football executive Andrew Dillon says all players must be fully vaccinated by February 18 next year.(ABC News)

“The uptake of AFL industry people being vaccinated has so far been extremely encouraging and we are very pleased the overwhelming majority of our players, coaches, staff members across the AFL and the 18 clubs have at the very least received their first vaccination shot,” Mr Dillon said.

AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said the organisation had made clear its belief in the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“In saying this, our view is that vaccinations are an individual decision … It has, however, became apparent in recent weeks that unvaccinated players will not be able to fulfil their contractual obligations due to various state border restrictions, and the new worker requirements in Victoria,” he said.

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Recycling the waste COVID-19 has created(Emilia Terzon)

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