NFL to wait for coronavirus vaccine in support of front-line workers, high-risk cases

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As the first shots of the coronavirus vaccine were administered across the U.S. on Monday, the NFL said it won’t vaccinate its personnel ahead of first responders or people considered high-risk. 

NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said the league intends to act in accordance with medical and government officials as to when it will be appropriate to get the vaccine.

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“We’re in complete harmony with the union in that we feel that it’s vital that front-line healthcare workers and other essential service workers are at the front of the line,” he said. 

“The rollout of the vaccine is going to be driven by public health concerns and what medical and government officials determine to be the most efficacious for risk reduction across society as a whole. We’re prepared to support that effort.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hinted at a timeline, saying he doesn’t anticipate anyone getting vaccinated before the Super Bowl in February.

"That's obviously being done at higher levels and given priority to obviously health care workers, first responders and those that are in the riskiest state,”  he said, via ESPN. “We don't fall into those categories, so we don't anticipate that and we're not planning for that."

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As the nation’s death toll surpassed 300,000, the U.S. hopes the two approved vaccines will vaccinate 20 million people by the end of the month and 30 million more in January. The average person won’t be able to get the vaccine until around spring. 

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, said during a recent press conference call that the players are on the same page with the league.

“Football is not an essential business,” he said. “While (NFLPA president JC Tretter) and I have a fiduciary duty to our players, I don’t think either of us for a nanosecond forget that we’re fortunate enough to be playing a game while millions of people are out there trying to keep up safe, and that’s where the focus should be.”

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Players will have to continue daily testing, socially distancing through remote meetings, and wearing their masks and contract tracers as they try to make it through the pandemic season without access to the vaccine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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