It’s time for anti-vaxxers to decide what really matters
As the NRL flu jab saga dominated headlines last week, Titan's player Bryce Cartwright's wife Shanelle perpetuated ignorant commentary through fact-phobic social media.
This is a woman who can ignore historic data that proves millions of lives have been saved by public health initiatives, but will invoke the Holocaust in an attempt to liken anti-vaxxers to persecuted Jews.
When the Gold Coast Titans confirmed players Cartwright and Brian Kelly were stood down for their stance against vaccinations, Shanelle, lashed out on social media, sharing a photo of famous Jewish Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
"The people who hid Anne Frank were breaking the law, the people who killed her were following it," the caption stated.
It's a confusing tangent that I'm assuming implies that forcing people to vaccinate is analogous to the Nazis regime's treatment of Jews.
But what should we expect from a woman who, enraged at being papped by a photographer in a Gold Coast car park, shared the pap photos on her Instagram page.
Cartwright said that to label him an anti-vaxxer was to "spread misinformation", but that is exactly what his wife has done.
In response to the NRL flu jab saga, Shanelle posted on social media that it had entered "scary territory".
"Especially considering the flu shot has been proven to increase the incidence of corona viruses by 36%," she posted.
This claim has been repeatedly disproven, including by the scientists behind the study, who said: "the study does not show or suggest that influenza vaccination predisposes in any way, the potential for infection with the more severe forms of coronavirus, such as COVID-19."
But what use is rational thought and evidence when you're complicit in nurturing distrust in science.
WAGs such as Shanelle Cartwright and Taylor Winterstein (wife of former NRL player Frank Winterstein) have used their husband's profiles to promote quackery over thousands of epidemiological studies.
It's a partnership dynamic we've seen before with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Shanelle, 21, has previously said her husband initially "got angry at me for even suggesting that we shouldn't vaccinate".
But then he read a "package insert" and a "few pages" of a book and he was converted.
Before this flu shot saga, Cartwright had his share of difficult times.
In 2016, during his time at Penrith, he got a woman pregnant and the woman, who had an abortion, received a $50,000 payment.
Shanelle was also the subject of sports news when she reportedly texted the Titans coach in 2018 over concerns when her husband only had one minute of game time.
"Not once have I said I am anti-vaccinations," Cartwright wrote in a carefully articulated social media post last week.
But that is semantic manipulation. One look at who the footballer follows on Instagram and it's a smorgasbord of anti-vaxxers and vaccine conspiracy, including Meryl Dorey's AVN, Vaccines Uncovered, Vaccinetruth and Pete Evans.
Last week the Titans player liked a post on Twitter by a woman who claimed to have cured her baby's whooping cough with herbal tea. Of course, a flu shot is not going to protect you from COVID-19. It's called novel coronavirus for a reason - no one is protected. But if Cartwright, or any player shows flu-like symptoms, the entire team and staff must go into quarantine to rule out coronavirus, leaving many people who rely on that team for employment out of work again, and without a $600,000 salary to fall back on.
In yet another of her social media tantrums, Shanelle raged against her husband's teammates for not standing up for him, posting "Where the real men at!?"
I've had NRL players in my family. I know that their bodies are their livelihoods. A bad flu is enough to knock them out of a season. I can only guess that many Titans players have chosen to keep quiet rather than disrupt the team further by sharing their anger.
But in a growing trend of vaccine-questioning WAGs and their footballer husbands, there is hope: Sonny Bill Williams.
The All Blacks star is pro-vaccination and has shared his experience of his baby's first jab.
"It's only the immunisation shot but it's still hurts seeing my lil darling in pain," he posted on Twitter.
He also raised $100,000 for families who had lost children to Samoa's deadly measles outbreak last year.
Take note, Shanelle. That is where the "real men" are at.
Lucy Carne is editor of Rendezview.com.au
Originally published as It's time for anti-vaxxers to decide what really matters