'Not about you': Outrage over AFL champion's vaccine claim

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
AFL great Matthew Richardson, left, reminded Tom McDonald, right, why vaccines are important.
AFL great Matthew Richardson gave Tom McDonald a subtle reminder of exactly why widespread vaccination is important for protecting more than just individuals. Pictures: Getty Images

Several former AFL players and media figures have spoken responded to Melbourne Demons defender Tom McDonald's criticism of mandatory coronavirus vaccinations.

The premiership Demon has received both doses of the vaccine himself, but on Tuesday publicly came out against mandates, describing them as 'ethically wrong'.

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McDonald added he would have 'no issue' taking the field against unvaccinated players.

“That’s why you get vaccinated, you protect yourself. I don’t understand why we need to force other players to,” McDonald said.

However his comments have been met with backlash within the AFL world, with many pointing out that the point of vaccinating against any disease was not solely to protect the individual.

AFL great Matthew Richardson called out McDonald for his take on the mandate, arguing the premiership defender was overlooking importance of protecting the vulnerable.

In his post on Twitter, Richardson didn't specifically refer to McDonald - but in the wake of AFLW player Deni Varnhagen's reported refusal to get jabbed, it was clear the Richmond great was sending a message.

“For someone with a close family member with a serious illness and compromised immune system it staggers me that you wouldn’t get vaccinated,” Richardson said. 

“It’s not just about you and your choice.”

Richardson had support from former Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney, who described the post as 'the greatest thing anyone has ever tweeted'.

"It’s not just about you, think of others!” Cooney added.

It wasn't just former players digging in either, with AFL reporter Max Laughton also arguing it vaccinations were about protecting the wider community.

“You don’t get vaccinated just to protect yourself. You get it so EVERYONE is less likely to get sick," he wrote on Twitter. 

"You get it so anyone vaccinated who still has extra risk (like me) is less likely to get it. You get it because it’s so simple to do and incredibly safe.”

AFL world rocked by McDonald, Varnhagen's stance

AFLW boss Nicole Livingstone has responded after two-time Adelaide Crows premiership player Deni Varnhagen reportedly refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Livingstone said had done 'much as we can' to educate and inform players about the vaccine and how it works, but added that it was ultimately a choice players would have to make for themselves.

Varnhagen is the first player from either men's or women's AFL to publicly refuse the vaccine.

The 28-year-old, who has a background in nursing and has worked in intensive care units, posted video from a march in Adelaide supporting 'freedom of choice'.

In another post, she held up a sign reading 'health care hero's (sic) in 2020 … unvaxed unwanted in 2021'.

Her account has since been set to private.

Deni Varnhagen's refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 could cause problems for the Adelaide Crows. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)
Deni Varnhagen's refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 could cause problems for the Adelaide Crows. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

According to NewsCorp, Varnhagen is believed to be the only Crows player yet to receive the vaccine.

After 31, games in five seasons for the Crows, including premierships in 2017 and 2019, Livingstone said she was hopeful the 28-year-old could be swayed by club officials.

“Given it is a player from South Australia there is still a little more time to work through that approach for Deni as well,” she said.

“I don’t know the intimate details of that but we will support the players as much as we can.

“Look I think with the different borders, and we don’t know what it will look like in January, it will be a wait-and-see approach in terms of borders.

“It will certainly make it much more easier to be an athlete if you are vaccinated. Again it is up to the athlete to make an informed decision.”

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