Unvaxxed star needs more time, Saints leave door open for return

ST KILDA dual best-and-fairest winner Georgia Patrikios remains unvaccinated against COVID-19 and has asked for more time to make a decision on whether to receive it.

As revealed on womens.afl in October, Patrikios had taken a leave of absence from the club.

At the time St Kilda said it was unable to confirm if the absence was due to the AFL's vaccination policy.

As it stands, all AFLW players must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to play in practice matches on December 18-19.

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AFL executive general manager of football Andrew Dillon speaks to the media about the League's COVID-19 vaccination policy

Patrikios and St Kilda both released statements on Tuesday night.

"I firstly want to thank the St Kilda football club, its members and the broader public for the privacy and respect that has been afforded to my family and I over the past few weeks," Patrikios said.

"I’ve been taking some time away from the club to consider my options and dissect my owns feelings about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, I remain unvaccinated, however I’m committed to learning more, consulting with additional medical professionals and continuing to discuss this with my family before ultimately making a final decision.

"I recognise that my personal timeline does not align with the AFL mandate and as a result I am currently unable to complete my duties at the club. The Saints could not have been more supportive throughout this period, and I thank them all – from Board members, senior club leaders, my coach Nick Dal Santo to my teammates - for their support and patience.

"While I continue to educate and arm myself with as much information as possible to help me make this decision, I ask for continued privacy. Thank you."

St Kilda's young gun Georgia Patrikios. Picture: AFL Photos

St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis said Patrikios has not yet been placed on the inactive list, keeping the door ajar for the young midfield star to play some footy in 2022.

"We respect Georgia’s right to take her time in making this decision and she has our support while doing so," Finnis said.

"However, our club also fully supports the vaccination requirements of the Victorian Government and the AFL and encourages all of our people and the broader community to get vaccinated.

"The club has opted to not place Georgia on the inactive list at this time, however we will obviously need to revisit this decision in coming weeks pending Georgia’s position as the commencement of the AFLW season fast approaches."

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The potential double loss of Patrikios and Tyanna Smith (torn ACL) is a huge blow to the fledgling Saints, with the pair the heart and soul of the midfield.

The Saints are yet to name a replacement for Smith, who injured her knee at training on Saturday.

The pair finished first and second in the club's 2021 best and fairest.

Adelaide’s Deni Varnhagen remains the only AFLW player to have been moved to the inactive list as a result of her decision to not receive the vaccination.

Twelve AFLW clubs have confirmed all their players have received at least one dose, with West Coast having not yet provided a response when asked for confirmation.