The problem isn’t NRL players risking the flu, it’s the confusion they cause about vaccines

And in amid the daily confusion that we call our lives, one thing that’s somehow surfaced to the top is quite surprising but nevertheless important: sports players refusing the influenza vaccine. According to a range of Australian news media, a group of NRL players have decided to forgo the safety of the flu jab in favour of vigorous protest over ill-defined medical rights.To most of us, who happily get our influenza shot every year, this seems like a very strange thing to do, but on the plus side it means you get me, an epidemiologist who knowsliterallynothing about sports, talking to you about the people who play it. It’s been more than a decade since I worked security at the SCG, so please forgive me if I make any terrible mistakes. The real problem isn’t some players risking the flu, it’s the confusion they’re generating about vaccines, and public health interventions in general. Anti-vaccine advocates get a lot of air, but it’s worth remembering that vaccines are safe and effective no matter whatcontentious celebrities say. There will always be hardline anti-vax advocates, but their only real power is in our collective outrage – ignore them and they quite literally disappear.