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The National Football League said on Thursday it has made it plain it wants to impose COVID-19 vaccines for players, as it revealed a nearly 93 percent immunisation rate. Despite mandating immunizations for staff and coaches, NFLPA President JC Tretter, who plays for the Cleveland Browns, told ESPN this week that the NFL did not enforce or even contemplate making vaccines a prerequisite for play this season.
“I honestly don’t understand where that came from,” NFL General Counsel Lawrence Ferazani told reporters on Thursday. “We’ve been discussing with the players’ association mandatory vaccination from the start.”
Ferazani said the league “would still love to see that mandate go into effect tomorrow.”
George Atallah, the NFLPA’s associate executive director for external relations, said that the union and players “did not believe mandating immunizations for players was the appropriate strategy.” “We know vaccines are effective but we also know our strict protocols – when followed – are effective, as we proved last year,” said Atallah.
Earlier this year, there was a fight between the league and the union over in-person voluntary workouts, which some players objected to because of fears about the epidemic. COVID-19 testing frequency is also a point of contention between the two parties. According to the NFL, it has proposed vaccinated players undergo weekly testing, while the NFLPA has urged for daily testing. An estimated 75% of NFL players were vaccinated, and teams were warned that if games could not be rescheduled due to COVID-19 outbreaks, they would be subject to forfeitures and loss of pay. As a result of the strategy, the COVID-19 vaccination may have been adopted more widely, with only about 7 percent of players unvaccinated two weeks before the start of the 2021 season, and all 30 stadiums set to be filled to capacity.
“Our NFL facilities are the safest places in their community,” said Allan Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. “If we had those kinds of vaccination rates in society right now, we would be in a far, far better place in regard to where this pandemic currently is.”
A COVID-19 vaccination has been administered to 61 percent of the U.S. population, according to Reuters. More than 150,000 new instances of COVID-19 were reported daily in the United States earlier this week, according to a Reuters count. The highly contagious Delta variety is to blame for the rise. There were 68 positive test results from Aug. 1 to last Saturday in the NFL. The number of positive test findings was seven times higher among unvaccinated athletes than among vaccinated ones.
“We’ve had one recent cluster on a team and – again, without getting into the medical specifics – I would tell you that on that team a total 38% of the unvaccinated players have become positive in that cluster and exposure,” said Sills.