The NFL is taking its strongest stance yet when it comes to returning to normal from the pandemic.
The message? Get vaccinated.
In a memo obtained by CNBC, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “In light of expanded vaccine eligibility, it is appropriate now to take further steps to educate about and promote vaccine availability and acceptance within the NFL.”
As part of that directive, the league says that all employees other than players (called Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees) are expected to get vaccinated unless they have an underlying medical or religious reason for not doing so.
Tier 1 employees include coaches and trainers and Tier 2 employees include general managers, assistant coaches and football operations employees. The memo states that any employee who refuses to do so without an approved reason will not be permitted to access the “football only” restricted area and they won’t be able to work with players directly or in close proximity.
While there is no required vaccination for players at this time, the memo instructs teams to report on a weekly basis the number of employees who have been vaccinated. It says they are actively working with the NFLPA on a set of protocol changes that would apply to clubs when vaccination levels reach a certain threshold that would allow them to loosen protocols put in place because of the pandemic. That would mean they could relax everything from quarantine restrictions to cafeteria and locker room use.
The league is also encouraging teams to hold vaccine information sessions for players, families and staff to address any concerns they may have.
“Educate your employees and communicate to them the work-related benefits of the vaccination,” the memo reads.
The NFL has also been instrumental in getting the general public vaccinated. At its annual meeting recently, the NFL reported that more than 1.5 million doses have been administered at club facilities. The memo from Tuesday encourages teams to continue to use 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 avoid the risk of contracting Covid-19 – and the risk of infecting others – is to be vaccinated,” the memo concludes.