Adelaide Crows AFLW player Deni Varnhagen refuses COVID vaccination

Oliver Caffrey and Anna HarringtonAAP
Two-time AFLW premiership winner Deni Varnhagen is reportedly resisting a COVID-19 jab.
Camera IconTwo-time AFLW premiership winner Deni Varnhagen is reportedly resisting a COVID-19 jab. Credit: AAP

Adelaide say they strongly urge people to be vaccinated after AFLW premiership player Deni Varnhagen reportedly informed the Crows she is not willing to receive a COVID-19 jab.

A registered nurse, who has experience working in ICU wards, Varnhagen has become the first known AFL or AFLW player to refuse the COVID-19 vaccination.

The Crows have issued a statement following multiple reports but stressed they could not confirm or deny any player’s vaccination status due to medical confidentiality.

“Our club strongly encourages people to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” a club statement read.

“The club remains committed to following the health advice and guidelines set by government and the AFL.”

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The AFL is yet to finalise a vaccination policy but the Victorian government’s requirement about a range of workers, which includes footballers, needing to be vaccinated came into effect last Friday.

Most Victorian clubs have confirmed to AAP that their AFLW programs are all compliant with the government vaccine protocols and players have been cleared to train and play.

There is no similar vaccine requirement in South Australia but the state’s healthcare workers do need to have at least one jab before November 1.

Varnhagen, who played in the Crows’ 2017 and 2019 premierships, posted a video on social media on Saturday showing people marching in Adelaide for “freedom of choice”.

The 28-year-old then followed it up with another clip holding a sign that read “health care hero’s (sic) in 2020 ... unvaxed unwanted in 2021”.

Varnhagen has played 31 games for the Crows across the first five seasons of AFLW.

AFLW chief executive Nicole Livingstone said the league’s priority was to protect players, staff and the community.

She also confirmed rapid antigen and PCR testing would be made available to clubs.

“We’ve done as much as we can, in terms of medical advice,” Livingstone told SEN.

“We’ve run information sessions, so if a player feels like they need more information then we’re happy to provide that and have those conversations.

“We are still living through a global pandemic, and if anybody ... feels like playing a sport during a global pandemic is not for them, then I have to respect that.

“There’s still a little more time to work through that approach for Deni.

“I don’t know the intimate details of that, but we’ll support the players as much as we can to make an informed choice.”

The AFLW season is due to get underway on January 6.

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