The N.F.L. on Tuesday sent a memo to all 32 teams effectively mandating that support personnel including coaches and trainers be vaccinated against Covid-19, with an exception made for staff who have “bona fide medical or religious ground” for not doing so.
According to the statement, the unvaccinated will not be allowed to work in proximity to players, who are strongly encouraged, but not yet required, to take the vaccine.
In the most direct address of vaccination protocols so far, the league said it expected employees classified as Tier 1 and Tier 2 — including coaches, trainers, front office personnel, videographers and others — to receive the vaccine. Those tiers were created last summer to stratify and limit access to team facilities as the N.F.L. prepared to open training camps in preparation for the 2020 season, and have been used continually since.
“N.F.L. team facilities proved to be among the safest places in the world in 2020 thanks to N.F.L.-N.F.L.P.A. comprehensive protocols that were developed in conjunction with public health officials,” an N.F.L. spokesman said in a statement emailed to The New York Times. “Having team personnel vaccinated will benefit these individuals and their families, will make the facilities even safer and also provide another step toward returning to normalcy.”
The league will require teams to report how many employees are vaccinated on a weekly basis and, based on those numbers, are expected to relax certain restrictions, such as locker room access, the use of cafeterias and close-contact quarantine, for vaccinated individuals. The memo also encouraged N.F.L. teams to host informational sessions on the vaccine with players, staff members and their families, and to use team stadiums and training facilities as vaccination sites.
The N.F.L.’s mandate follows similar messaging from the N.B.A. and M.L.B., to leagues currently in season, who have incentivized players and personnel with relaxed coronavirus restrictions once they are vaccinated.