NFL Won’t Make Coronavirus Vaccines Mandatory for Players, Coaches, or Staff

People line up in front of photos of Bobby Wagner, left, and other Seahawks players at a mass vaccination site at the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle, which adjoins the field where the Seahawks play their games. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

The NFL and the players’ union have no plans at this point to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for players, coaches or staff members, officials said Thursday.

The league and the NFL Players Association consistently have expressed support for vaccination efforts. But they will stop shy, based on their conversations thus far, of requiring vaccinations under their joint coronavirus protocols for participation in practices, games or other team-related activities.

“That is consistent with what our preliminary conversations about vaccines have been,” a person familiar with the NFLPA’s view said.

A person with knowledge of the league’s vaccine planning said that “education, answering questions and as much info as anyone wants is the approach.”

Neither side elaborated on the reasoning behind stopping short of mandating vaccinations. NFL officials confirmed the league’s view first expressed Thursday in comments made by Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, to the league-owned NFL Network. Sills said that vaccines will be encouraged but not mandated.

“The NFL and the NFL Players Association have no intention of making the covid-19 vaccine mandatory for players, coaches or staff,” Sills said in his televised interview. “What we are focusing on is education. We want everyone to have the facts and we believe that this is an important step forward.”

The NFL played a full 2020 season, with some games postponed but none canceled, while relying on strict protocols and daily testing of players, coaches and staffers. It appears those protocols could be eased for the 2021 season for those who have been vaccinated.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Mark Maske