'In the best interests': Stunning twist in AFLW anti-vaxx saga

Pictured right, Deni Varnhagen poses with an AFLW fan and campaigns for health care workers on the left.
Deni Varnhagen has been ruled out of the upcoming AFLW season after refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Pic: Twitter/AAP

Adelaide AFLW premiership defender Deni Varnhagen has been ruled out of the upcoming season due to her well publicised anti-vaccination stance.

Varnhagen this week spoke out at a rally in Adelaide protesting South Australia's vaccine mandate after healthcare workers who had not been vaccinated by the November 1 deadline were stood down.

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The 29-year-old works as an intensive care and anaesthetic nurse, and even worked with the AFL on a campaign to recognise the efforts of health workers back in 2020.

However, due to the vaccination policy employed by both the AFL and AFLW, Varnhagen has been effectively released by the Crows because of her refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Under the policy, all AFLW players and football staff are required to receive their first vaccination by November 19 and be fully vaccinated by December 17.

Varnhagen has now been placed on the inactive list, with the Crows able to replace her before the sixth season of the competition starts on January 6.

"The AFL's initial vaccination deadline is still a fortnight away, however, Deni has made it well known she is against vaccination in this instance," Adelaide chief executive Tim Silvers said.

"We have a team-first approach and the timing of this decision has been made in the best interests of the team and its preparation for the upcoming season.

"Our club supports the league's policy and we strongly encourage people to be vaccinated for the benefit of community health and safety.

"We would like to acknowledge and thank Deni for the significant contribution she has made to our women's program over the past five seasons."

Varnhagen joined other nurses in Adelaide on Tuesday to protest about mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers, which came into effect in South Australia this week.

Seen here, Deni Varnhagen attends an anti-vaxx protest for healthcare workers in South Australia.
Adelaide Crows player Deni Varnhagen attended a protest for healthcare workers in South Australia who were stood down due to their refusal to be vaccinated by the November 1 deadline. Pictures: Channel 7/Getty Images

Deni Varnhagen's stance at odds with AFLW

She told reporters at the rally she did not want to be "at threat" of losing her nursing job because of what she labelled as a "medical experiment".

Varnhagen was a member of the Crows' inaugural AFLW squad and played 31 games for the club, including the 2017 and 2019 premierships.

During this week's protest Varnhagen sported a sign that read “I (love) being a nurse” and “coercion is not consent”, claiming "there's a lot that's in the news that isn't speaking the truth" when she spoke with 7 News.

"I love being a nurse and coercion is not consent so it's pretty self-explanatory," Varnhagen said.

"I'm scared for all of us nurses, we're all terrified, we love working and want to be back working.

“Once they finish attacking us, they're attacking police and they’re just going to keep attacking different fields of work, which isn’t right.

“Everyone should have the right to choose what enters their body … and where there is risk there should be choice.”

The league released its long-awaited vaccination policy last month, with clubs to ultimately determine action on staff who refuse vaccinations.

If players do not have a medical exemption for not receiving the jab, clubs will have options to transfer them to the inactive list, pay them no less than 25 per cent of their contracted salary, or agree to part ways.

with AAP

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