Cricket asks to jump vaccine queue ahead of tour
CRICKET Australia is pushing ahead with an 11th-hour bid to have players vaccinated before touring South Africa next month, firing off a formal request to the federal Government for COVID jabs.
The request, obtained by The Saturday Telegraph, was made on Thursday despite some criticism of the body of trying to queue-jump when its intentions to have players vaccinated were revealed last week.
The discussions within Cricket Australia followed the federal Government last week bringing forward the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to mid-February, coinciding with the time the Australian team are scheduled to fly abroad.
With South Africa deemed a "very high risk" country, Cricket Australia chief medical officer John Orchard said the medical team felt vaccination was the "best chance of mitigation".
"We (CA Medical) feel that the best chance of mitigation would be if the entire tour party was able to receive at least a single dose of Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca or Moderna COVID vaccine prior to the tour starting on February 24," he wrote to chief medical officer Paul Kelly.
"It is part of our due diligence to investigate whether there is any possibility of obtaining a dose of any of these vaccines in Australia or elsewhere prior to Feb 24."
It is understood Cricket Australia had been resigned to not being able to vaccinate their players for the upcoming tour until the rollout was brought forward to mid-February, triggering the request.
Asked about the likelihood of Cricket Australia players accessing a vaccination, a Health Department spokesman said the Government was focused on the "priority groups" of quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers and disability and aged care staff and residents.
It said any application for "critical service designation" would be a matter for the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) medical expert panel. Mr Orchard said the request was made following discussions with the federal Government on the safe passage of the squad to and from South Africa.
"The Australian men's cricket team is scheduled to tour South Africa in February," he said.
"Accordingly, Cricket Australia has sought the advice of the Australian Government to ensure the squad's safe passage to and from South Africa.
"As part of those discussions, CA has requested clarification on whether the Government's timeline on COVID-19 vaccinations aligns with the Australian team's travel to South Africa."
Originally published as Cricket asks to jump vaccine queue ahead of tour