The NFL is taking its strongest stance so far when it comes to restoring normality after the pandemic.
The message? Get vaccinated.
In a memo obtained by CNBC, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “In light of increased vaccine suitability, it is now appropriate to take further steps to educate about, promote the availability and acceptance of vaccines within the NFL.”
As part of that guideline, the league says all employees except players (called Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees) are expected to be vaccinated unless they have an underlying medical or religious reason not to.
Tier 1 employees include coaches and trainers, and Tier 2 employees include general managers, assistant coaches, and football operations staff. The memo states that any employee who refuses to do so without an approved reason will not be allowed access to the “football only” restricted area and will not be able to work directly or in close proximity with players.
While there is currently no mandatory vaccination for players, the memo instructs teams to report weekly on the number of employees who have been vaccinated. It says they are actively working with the NFLPA on a series of protocol changes that will apply to clubs when vaccination levels reach a certain threshold, which could allow them to relax protocols put in place because of the pandemic. That would mean they could relax everything from quarantine restrictions to the use of cafeterias and changing rooms.
The league also encourages teams to hold vaccine information sessions for players, families and staff to address any concerns.
“Educate your employees and communicate to them the job-related benefits of the vaccination,” the memo reads.
The NFL has also played an important role in vaccinating the general public. Recently, at its annual meeting, the NFL reported that more than 1.5 million doses have been administered at 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 something similar.
“The overwhelming consensus among medical and public health experts is that the most effective way for someone to be at risk of contracting Covid-19 – and the risk of infecting others – is to be vaccinated,” the memo concludes.