V’landys: Anti-vaxxers will not stop May 28 relaunch
Peter V'landys says rugby league's hyped May 28 return will not be threatened by the ongoing anti-vaxxer debate, with the ARLC chairman also praising the "majority" of NRL players for supporting the flu shot.
Speaking with The Daily Telegraph, V'landys said he expected the Queensland Government to confirm as early as Monday that players who refuse to be vaccinated will be granted an exemption to play north of the border.
The chairman also stressed those "handful" of footballers who refuse to be needled pose no greater risk to the community than anyone else who chooses not to get the shot.
Yet if the Queensland Government stand firm on a decision to ban players who refuses to be vaccinated, V'landys said it would not impact on the NRL season resuming as planned.
"I think the Queensland Government will grant the waiver," he said. "But if not, those (unvaccinated) players will be stood down.
"Right now, there are only two players in Queensland and a handful of others in NSW.
"So it's only a few players
"And of those, some have adverse reactions to the flu shot
"When it comes to anti-vaxxers, I think there is maybe only three or four of them. And when you look at the community overall, it would be around the same percentage.
"That's why I don't understand the outrage.
"The vast majority of players have gone and got the flu shot straight away."
As part of the Project Apollo blueprint to return on May 28, the NRL informed the Queensland Government that all players and staff would receive the flu vaccination.
However, the code was then confronted by more than 10 players who refused to receive the vaccination, prompting the game to introduce a waiver which was agreed to by the NSW Government, but rejected up north.
Currently, only two Queensland players have refused a flu injection - Gold Coast Titans duo Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly.
However, a small group of players based in NSW could also be banned from playing games in Queensland.
Despite widespread debate over the issue, which has included even Prime Minister Scott Morrison, V'landys said those who refused the flu shot were not putting the community at greater risk of illness, but themselves.
"If you don't get vaccinated, you're only exposing yourself," V'landys said.
"So this isn't a health issue in relation to the community.
"This is about the health of the player.
"We want them to get vaccinated because if you get coronavirus in addition to the flu, it's quite serious.
"Also, if a players contracts flu symptoms, they are going to be stood down.
"They are going to be tested (for coronavirus).
"So it's all about the individual player and their safety - not anyone else."
While it has been suggested NRL players are losing the support of Australian sports fans, V'landys suggested the group should actually be praised for its overwhelming support of the vaccination process.
"Because the majority of players have gone immediately and got a flu shot," he said.
"There was no delay.
"We have 97 per cent of the playing group vaccinated and instead we're concentrating on the negative.
"You're talking about three per cent of players.
"Actually it would be less now given players (Nathan Peats and Marty Taupau) have received their flu shots."
Originally published as V'landys: Anti-vaxxers will not stop May 28 relaunch