Signs display information for a vaccination center operated by the Santa Clara County Health Department at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers NFL soccer team, in Santa Clara, California on February 9, 2021.
Brittany Hosea-Small | Reuters
The NFL is taking its strongest stance yet on getting back to normal from the pandemic.
The message? To be vaccinated.
In a memo received from CNBC, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Given the expanded eligibility to vaccinate, it is now appropriate to take further steps to educate and promote vaccine availability and uptake within the NFL.”
As part of this policy, the league states that all staff except the players (Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff) are likely to be vaccinated unless they have a medical or religious reason not to do so.
Tier 1 employees include trainers and coaches, and Tier 2 employees include managing directors, assistant coaches, and football team members. The memo states that anyone who declines to do so without an approved reason will not have access to the “Football Only” restricted area and will not be able to work with players directly or in close proximity.
While no vaccination is currently required for players, the memo instructs teams to report the number of employees vaccinated on a weekly basis. It is said that they are actively working with the NFLPA on a number of protocol changes that would apply to clubs if vaccination levels reached a certain threshold that would allow them to relax the protocols put in place due to the pandemic. That would mean they could relax everything from quarantine restrictions to using the cafeteria and locker room.
The league also encourages teams to hold vaccine briefing sessions for players, families, and staff to address any concerns.
“Educate your employees and tell them about the work-related benefits of vaccination,” the memo says.
The NFL was also instrumental in ensuring that the general public was vaccinated. At its recent annual meeting, the NFL reported that more than 1.5 million doses had been administered in club facilities. Tuesday’s memo encourages teams to continue using their stadium or training facilities to vaccinate employees, players and their families through “vaccination days” or the like.
“The overwhelming consensus among medical professionals and public health professionals is that the most effective way for someone to avoid the risk of contracting Covid-19 – and the risk of contracting others – is to vaccinate,” concludes the memo.