Bryce Cartwright’s wife has spoken out amid the controversy surrounding her husband’s reported refusal to get a flu shot before resuming NRL training.
As the NRL moves forward with plans to restart the suspended season on May 28, officials have told players they all need to get the jab before returning to training.
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The NRL’s biosecurity experts have expressed their belief that players are more susceptible to contracting coronavirus if they get the flu.
However that has posed significant challenges for a number of players who are against vaccinations.
Gold Coast Titans player Cartwright reportedly refused to get the flu shot but was allowed to train after signing a waiver.
That development sparked controversy among NRL circles, and Cartwright’s wife Shanelle has now spoken out.
Taking to Instagram on Tuesday night, Shanelle wrote: “People have the freedom to say what they like, just like we have the freedom to choose which medical procedures we undergo, but ultimately the proof is in the pudding.”
“Our kids are a picture of health. They’ve never had an ear infection, never had a chest infection or bronchitis, they have no neuro-developmental disorders or auto-immune disorders and are rarely ever sick.
“They’ve never had a round of antibiotics are any other pharmaceutical drug for that matter (yes, including Panadol). As parents we do our best with what we know, for some, health comes in a needle and it works for them.
“What we’re doing is going seemingly well seeing the state of their health. So if it’s not clear, we’re not anti anything. We stand for medical freedom and the right to choose.”
The Cartwrights caused a stir last year when they first revealed their views, saying they wouldn’t vaccinate their children Koa, 2, and Naia, 1.
Cartwright’s stance sparks controversy
On Tuesday, Sky News host Peter Gleeson said Cartwright should not be allowed to train because he’s risking the health of teammates.
“The NRL and Gold Coast Titans have no choice with Cartwright — they just have no choice,” Gleeson said.
“He either gets on the vaccination bus or he gets off the team. He either gets the jab or he forgoes his lucrative contract.
“No jab, no money. No jab, no play. If he feels so principled about his anti-vax, he’ll take the no jab option.”
And Penrith Panthers legend Mark Geyer agrees.
“As for Bryce, I’m sorry but no flu shot, no play,” Geyer told Triple M’s Rush Hour.
“I respect he and his partner’s decision for his family, if they don’t want to get the kids vaccinated that’s fine.
“What I never understand with this type of scenario is if god forbid Bryce or his partner or one of their kids did get coronavirus, and there’s a vaccination made available to us in a month, would you take it?
“I know the Cartwright family pretty well and I’m pretty sure growing up Bryce has had many a flu shot, many vaccinations.
“What he does with his kids is his own business but to play footy, man, you’ve got to have a flu shot brother.”
However retired NRL great Paul Gallen said it was Cartwright’s choice.
“I’m not against the flu shot, but I just think if they don’t want to have it, they don’t have to have it,” he told Wide World of Sports Radio.
“I know this is a special situation because of the circumstances that we’re in, but they haven’t received it in years gone by, hopefully they do receive it, but if they don’t receive it I don’t see why they have to receive it.
“If they don’t want to put it into their body, they don’t have to have it.”
Players Association boss Clint Newton also supported Cartwright’s right to choose.
“We’ve always maintained the fact that players needed to maintain the ability to make their own decisions on vaccinations,” Newton told 2GB.
“And we’re comfortable with the position that Bryce is in with regards to his ability to sign a waiver and then to resume training and playing.”
Health authorities have previously warned about the dangers of not vaccinating children.
“Immunisation is a safe and effective way to protect you and your children from harmful, contagious diseases,” the Australian government’s health department says.
“It also safeguards the health of other people, now and for future generations.
“Before vaccination campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s, diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough killed thousands of children. Today, it is extremely rare to die from these diseases in Australia.”