Cyndi Hoyland won the National Junior Championship, 6-2, 6-0. And she wasn’t immune to criticism over her non-vaccinated son Andrew. (AP Photo/Greg Wood)
As flu season grips the U.S., anti-vaccination advocates are steaming over the Royal Australian Open. Organizers may be forced to change plans to allow players who are unvaccinated in two weeks, to play the quarterfinals and semifinals, after more than a dozen players expressed concern. (Of course, they would forfeit their entire first-round fee if they pulled out.)
The Australian Open didn’t address the issue directly Wednesday, saying only that its decision regarding players’ vaccination status will be final at “the time of its draw.” (The organizers claim to take its guests’ health seriously, but says that the players are responsible for their own health.)
“I’m happy for people to make their own opinion or to have a strong view,” said Nadiya Savchuk, one of the players with a child who might be allowed to play. But, “I’m not going to put my child in harm’s way … This is my only child.”
For now, the tournament isn’t responding to the direct criticism on social media, but the issue isn’t going away.
Some anti-vaccination advocates are concerned for the kids of unvaccinated players— including three young moms who won the Tassie Women’s Senior and National Junior titles earlier this month. That’s because those women are doing something no other tennis player is required to do at the Australian Open— they are allowing their kids to skip required shots. (Those shots include fever tests, a dermatology test and vaccination of the nose and throat.)
“We thought it was a medical right to be with our child in an environment where we feel happy and at ease,” one player, Cyndi Hoyland, wrote on her blog, Meow Meow Ball. “We had no idea people would feel the way they do about this issue.”
But some are worried about the effects. Sophia Langman, a doula who signed a statement supporting vaccines in 2015, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation that she would get vaccinated, if she faced the same situation as the mothers on her dating app. “I won’t lose any sleep,” she said. “It has nothing to do with me. I’ll be okay. But I think those little kids— they probably are the most vulnerable and they won’t have the same choice.”
The Tassie Women’s Senior and National Junior titles had their own controversies— with female players facing accusations of tanking on the courts. Now, it’s getting to the kids.
Australian Infant Health & Dental Director Dr. Greg Asher says that vaccinations should be routinely included in the vaccination schedule for children.
“If you take that choice away, you not only deprive them of protection to their bodies, but for society as a whole, it’s a security risk,” Asher said in a telephone interview with Fox News.