London (AFP) – Ireland striker Callum Robinson revealed he has not had a Covid vaccine despite contracting the virus twice, insisting players had the right to choose what to do with their bodies.
Robinson, who plays for West Bromwich Albion in England’s second tier, first tested positive in November 2020 and caught Covid-19 again in August 2021, missing a World Cup qualifier against Portugal on September 1.
Reports suggest only seven of the Premier League’s 20 clubs have had more than half of their players fully inoculated against coronavirus.
Vaccination rates are also lower than the general population further down the English football pyramid.
“It’s annoying that I’ve caught it twice but I haven’t been vaccinated. Further down the line I could change my mind,” the 26-year-old said on Tuesday.
“There are managers and people that will want you to do it, which is right in their way, but everyone has their choice on what they want to do.
“I wouldn’t force people to do it, it’s your choice and your body.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp last week expressed his frustration at the Premier League’s low vaccine uptake, comparing not taking the jab to drink-driving.
But Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he was not “angry” with N’Golo Kante after the France midfielder tested positive last month, although his vaccination status is unconfirmed.
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny acknowledged he could not force players to get vaccinated but underlined his trust in medical advice.
“It would be quite a radical viewpoint to just say, ‘Whoever is not vaccinated is not being selected in the future’,” he said.
“There are a lot of myths and issues around virility that people are concerned about. It is complex.
“I am not a medical expert, but I do trust the experts and I do think it is better to be double-vaccinated.”
Britain’s coronavirus death toll is one of the world’s highest at more than 137,000, but government figures show more than 82 percent of UK adults have had two vaccine doses.
More than 89 percent of over-12s in Ireland have received at least one vaccine dose.
Winless Ireland sit fourth in their World Cup qualifying group with two points from five matches.
Kenny’s team play Azerbaijan in Baku in their next World Cup qualifier on Saturday before welcoming Qatar to Dublin for a friendly on October 12.
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