Novak Djokovic’s immunization exemption, a counterproductive decision for everyone?

No thanks Novak. We had other plans for Tuesday than to dive into the exciting
guide to medical exemptions related to the Covid-19 vaccination from the Australian government’s medical department, but Djokovic had to force us to do so. For those who would have missed it, the world number one – unvaccinated – announced his departure for Australia after having benefited from a derogation, Grail whose obtaining until now seemed impossible in view of the intransigence of the authorities local.

At the end of October, Daniel Andrews, Prime Minister of the State of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, sounded, we believed, the death knell for the unvaccinated by excluding “unvaccinated people from pubs, cafes, restaurants and the MCG. [le grand stade de cricket de la ville] and all kinds of other events. It was without counting on a 180 turn worthy of the most beautiful drifts of Vin Diesel.

An exemption, but why?

The exemption will allow the world number one to participate in the most important tournament of the century: if successful, Nole would pass Nadal and Federer in the ranking of the largest holders of major titles (20 everywhere for the moment). Good news on the sporting level which we would have gladly enthusiastic about if humanity had not struggled for two years against an enemy even smaller than the scruples of the Serbian.

As Nole has a sense of the spectacle, it is on Insta that he chose to display himself all smiles, leaning on his luggage with the track in the background to make his announcement before putting his cell phone in airplane mode, d ‘fasten your seatbelt and take off with the certainty of having set the internet on fire. Djokovic enters a zone of turbulence both literally and figuratively. Why was he able to get the green light from the authorities to set foot in Australia?

The Australian Federation (TA), organizer of the tournament, vaguely explained, lurking in the comfort of medical confidentiality that Djokovic had “requested a medical exemption which was granted to him after a rigorous examination (of his request) involving two different and independent groups. medical experts […] Fair and independent protocols have been put in place to assess requests for medical exemptions in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable 2022 Australian Open for everyone ”.

What does the ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization) guide say and what can lead to a Covid-19 vaccine exemption?

For RNA vaccines : heart disease in the last three months (myocarditis, pericarditis, etc.)

For non-RNA vaccines :

  • A serious medical condition that would have led to major surgery
  • A positive PCR test, which can delay vaccination for six months
  • Any previous negative event related to the injection of a vaccine against Covid without other identified cause and without alternative.
  • It has been determined by an immunologist (or other expert) that a new dose could lead to another such episode. Thrombosis, anaphylactic shock, Guilain-Barré syndrome, etc. are cited as negative events.
  • If the vaccinated person presents a risk to themselves or to others during the vaccination process, they may justify a temporary exemption from vaccination. This can include a range of individuals with underlying developmental or mental health disabilities.

Counterproductive resistance?

Let’s put our white coat here, for lack of medical skills, not without having specified that Djokovic has not communicated any positive test for Covid since July, but let us allow ourselves to be a bit moralistic. Seeing the world number one lugging his luggage wherever he sees fit, proudly displaying his unvaccinated status, poses the problem of the exemplary nature of such a player on a question of global public health.

A misinterpretation that underlined in our columns by Dr. Montalvan, deputy director in charge of medical at the FFT. “What tennis players don’t understand is that ‘normal’ people who didn’t necessarily want to be vaccinated did so to protect others. But they do it because it is imposed on us and they do not want to transmit the virus. So they end up doing a “citizen” act that they didn’t necessarily want to do. “

“In his place, I would have had no exemption”

Conversely, we can very well fear that the unpunished lack of altruism of the best player in the world will lead to undecided Tsitsipas style, a reluctant time but finally vaccinated, to review their copy at the time of their Xth dose in a world where it would be necessary to be vaccinated every six months. Jamie Murray, great doubles specialist and brother of, was quick to sum up the general feeling: “I think that if I had not been vaccinated, I would not have had an exemption, but good for him. “. In the process, journalist Ben Rothenberg informed us that the 96th player in the world, Tennys Sandgren, two-time quarter-finalist in Melbourne, forfeited the Australian Open for lack of an up-to-date vaccine, without however chasing the famous exemption. , given that he did not expect to meet “any criteria”

“If you have the world number 1, 2 and 3 who say ‘yeah I get vaccinated it’s really good’, they all do the same”, caricatured Montalvan to Bercy. Otherwise ? Otherwise welcome to a world where everyone seeks to escape by administrative trickery (or not) the vaccine obligation because the tennis boss was afraid of a needle. Really no thanks, Novak.

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