You can add another name to the list of athletes hesitant to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera brought in a “vaccine expert” to address his team on Tuesday, in a move that rubbed some players the wrong way. According to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, Washington’s player vaccination rate is nearing 50%, but Rivera is looking for more participation.
“There’s a lot of messaging out there that they get off Twitter, and some of it’s good and some of it’s bad,” Rivera said.
The Football Team brought in Kizzmekia S. Corbett — an immunologist and coronavirus researcher— to give general information about the vaccines, and to answer any questions or concerns the players had regarding immunization.
“We’re trying to gather as much information, allow the players to get as much information so they can make a choice and make a decision,” Rivera told reporters.. “ … She was outstanding. Our players were engaged and asked a lot of good questions, and off of that we had several guys that are getting vaccinated or have gotten vaccinated because of that.”
Ron Rivera said they’re “nearing 50%” in vaccinated players. He said they brought in a “vaccine expert” to talk to players yesterday.
“There’s a lot of messaging out there that they get off Twitter, and some of it’s good and some of it’s bad.”
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) June 9, 2021
Not everyone is a fan of being pushed in the direction of the vaccine, however.
Washington Football Team defensive end Montez Sweat was asked what he thought of Rivera bringing in a “vaccine expert” to speak with the players, and he made his displeasure known.
“I’m not a fan of it. I probably won’t get vaccinated until I get more facts and all that type stuff,” Sweat said. “I’m not a fan of it at all.”
“Obviously, they want everybody to be vaccinated to move more freely around the facility and with traveling and all that type of stuff. But everybody has their own beliefs, and they’re entitled to their own decision.”
Sweat was asked why he was hesitant to receive the vaccine and said “I haven’t caught COVID yet. I don’t see me treating COVID until I actually get Covid.”
Sweat joins a handful of athletes that have either decided against the vaccine or have refused to divulge whether they have received or will receive the vaccine.
LA Lakers star LeBron James told reporters in May that his decision on the vaccine was a “private thing,” and most recently, Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold said he has not yet received the vaccine, and isn’t sure he will.
“There’s a ton of different things that go into it,” Darnold said. “I’m going to evaluate that on my own and make the best decision that I feel is best for myself.”
Panthers QB Sam Darnold says he’s not been vaccinated, yet.
“There’s a ton of different things that go into it. I’m gonna evaluate that on my own and make the best decision that I feel is the best for myself.”
— Joe Person (@josephperson) June 9, 2021
Sports leagues have incentivized the vaccine by loosening restrictions for teams that meet a certain threshold of vaccinated team members. The NFL allows special perks for players who get the prick, including allowing vaccinated players to gather outside of the team facility. In addition, social distancing rules were relaxed for vaccinated individuals at the 2021 NFL Draft.
The messaging is even more straightforward when it comes to NFL employees. According to Yahoo Sports, the NFL released a memo to its employees in April:
Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees (other than players) should be expedited to be vaccinated unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so. Any staffer that refuses to be vaccinated without a religious or medical reason will not be eligible for Tier 1 or Tier 2 status and therefore will not be permitted access to the “football only” restricted area and may not directly or in close proximity with players. Furthermore, as noted below (in the memo), we anticipate relaxing various aspects of the Protocols (such as close contact quarantine, restrictions regarding locker room, meetings and cafeteria use and the testing cadence) for vaccinated individuals.
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