Australia’s first Indigenous gold medalist Nova Peris has ripped into the AFL for “vaccine racism” and taken aim at Footy Classified host Craig Hutchison for his comments over the incident.
This week, the AFL sent an email to club doctors appearing to suggest it was mandatory for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander players to receive a pneumococcal vaccination if they were entering Queensland.
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After confusion the AFL then apologised after a communication breakdown, claiming they made a mistake and it wasn’t compulsory for the 87 Indigenous players to receive a vaccination.
The vaccination was only recommended for children and people over the age of 50, which is a category no Indigenous player falls into.
Fox Footy Classified host Hutchison said the situation hadn’t been helped after the mistake became public knowledge.
“I really feel for the Indigenous players because it was not well communicated to them by the medicos, it was miscommunicated to them,” he said on Channel 9.
“I think it’s a very complicated issue where the absolute best support must be given, (but) I didn’t think it was in the interests of the players to put that out as a press release on Saturday and inflame the issue a little bit further,” he added.
“I didn’t think that was necessary.”
Peris blasts AFL and Hutchison
But Peris, who won gold in the 1996 Olympics for the Australian hockey team, praised veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson for trying to address the issue, while she took aim at Hutchison for trying to shift the spotlight.
Wow @AFL this seems to be vaccine racism! Are there Human Rights breaches here? Who in the #AFL mandated this vaccine whilst there’s a national shortage of supply?Why only Aboriginal players 🤷🏾♀️ who aren’t even in the critical criteria category? https://t.co/cbMejaHNFy
— Nova Peris OAM OLY (@NovaPeris) July 18, 2020
“This isn’t just a medical blunder. This is a race issue,” Peris told The Herald Sun.
“I applaud Caroline Wilson for taking this seriously and not letting Craig Hutchison sweep it under the carpet like he appeared to want to do on the Footy Classified program.
“Once again we are being told to shut up. It is nowhere near good enough.”