No unvaccinated Australian Open players, Premier says

Written by Staff Writer Staff Writer Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that there will be no unvaccinated players at next year’s Australian Open in Melbourne. The Australian Open, which is played at…

No unvaccinated Australian Open players, Premier says

Written by Staff Writer Staff Writer

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that there will be no unvaccinated players at next year’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

The Australian Open, which is played at Melbourne Park, is the biggest event on the tennis calendar.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has previously urged people to get the MMR vaccine, telling ABC radio earlier this year that playing and watching the event was “one of the great privileges of being an Australian”.

“What we’re trying to do is to protect children and children’s mothers, particularly those who are breastfeeding. We do so through the vaccination program,” he said in March.

While the Australian Open will welcome players who have not yet taken up the government-enforced vaccination program, Andrews says he will ban unvaccinated players from appearing at the major tournament.

“We are giving Victoria’s top level sports people, over $33 million and a guaranteed entry into the Australian Open, a tremendous platform to inspire generations of kids,” Andrews said in a statement on Friday.

“But we cannot guarantee a child in every single community a childhood free of serious disease. We are no longer prepared to accept that.”

Victoria state has the highest percentage of unvaccinated children in Australia, according to data from the Australian Government. One in every seven preschoolers was not immunized in the year to July 2017, that data showed.

Victoria: ‘One of the highest unimmunized states in Australia’

Victoria’s unvaccinated preschoolers have a high percentage of communicable diseases, including measles, mumps, whooping cough and influenza.

Globally, just over half of young children are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, according to government data. This compares to more than 90% for measles in most of the world.

As a result, there is an overall decline in measles incidence since 2000. In 2016, the United States reported the lowest number of measles cases in nearly a decade, with fewer than 100 people admitted to hospital.

“The evidence is clear. These restrictions are a public health measure and here in Australia we need to play our part in world-leading global health policies and prevent this virus from spreading,” Andrews said.

“At the same time we recognize that there is a minority of people who are not vaccinated, who could be spread to friends and family whose lives are suddenly made vulnerable.”

While the Australian Open is likely to welcome players with unimmunized records, the exclusion will likely affect some of the world’s biggest sports stars, including Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.

Williams missed last year’s Australian Open, one of the biggest sporting events in the country, after she was diagnosed with a blood infection related to pregnancy. Williams said in March that she was through her first trimester of her pregnancy.

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