(Reuters) – The National Football League (NFL) hopes players, coaches and staff will get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the new season but it will not be mandatory, the league’s chief medical officer Allan Sills said.
The NFL on Thursday sent a memo to all 32 teams ahead of this year’s draft outlining a series of more relaxed protocols if all individuals in the draft room were vaccinated.
Sills said similar regulations would apply once the season begins, with vaccinated individuals receiving extra privileges.
“The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association have no intention of making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for players, coaches or staff,” Sills told the NFL Network.
“What we are focusing on is education. We want everyone to have the facts, and we believe that this is an important step forward.
“As we spoke about in the draft, vaccinated individuals will have certain privileges and precautions lifted. We’ll continue discussions and go where science leads us on that. We’re seeing a lot of dialogue about vaccination. We hope everyone gets vaccinated.”
More than 85 million people in the United States had received one shot by midweek this week and more than 46 million people had been fully vaccinated.
The 2021 Draft will place from April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio. The new season is set to begin on Sept. 9.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)