THE AFL has formally apologised to its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, saying it did not provide enough clarity around whether Indigenous players would be forced to receive pneumococcal vaccinations before arriving in Queensland hubs.
The AFL Players' Association had earlier voiced its concern over reports Indigenous players had been forced to receive a pneumococcal vaccination before entering hubs situated in Queensland, despite that not being agreed upon in the 'return to play' protocols.
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It had previously been confirmed that all players had been required to receive a flu vaccination ahead of entering Queensland in order for the season to safely continue in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in a statement released on Saturday, AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh said the organisation had not been told of stipulations regarding Indigenous players receiving a pneumococcal vaccination.
The League has since acknowledged it did not share enough information to club doctors regarding the advice it received from Queensland government health authorities, apologising for its error.
"The AFL apologises to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and staff and the AFLPA for not providing sufficient clarity around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players receiving a pneumococcal vaccination ahead of entering Queensland and for any distress this has caused them and their families," the AFL said in a statement.
"The AFL acknowledges it could have obtained and shared more information from the Queensland Government health authorities regarding the vaccination including the underlying health and safety benefits and that it can improve its processes in providing information to support club doctors in ensuring cultural safety in provision of health to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
"The AFL is committed to working closely with the AFLPA and the players, our clubs and our doctors to resolve the situation."
Earlier, the AFLPA had released a statement saying it has raised its concerns with the AFL and that it was now investigating its next steps in regard to what action it could possibly take.
"In the past 48 hours the AFLPA has become aware of Indigenous players being required to have pneumococcal vaccinations prior to entering AFL High Performance Centres (Hubs)," Marsh said.
"We are very concerned about this issue and since becoming aware of it, we’ve had various conversations with players and the AFL and are in the process of gathering more information to inform what actions we may take.
"The fact that these vaccinations were not discussed with the AFLPA as part of the return play protocols or otherwise is a significant issue we have raised with the AFL.
"We are now working directly with players to ensure they understand their rights and options available to them regarding any requested vaccinations."
As things stand, all clubs barring Collingwood, Geelong, Hawthorn and Melbourne have arrived in Queensland.