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NFL’s chief medical officer says league won’t force players to get COVID-19 vaccines ahead of 2021 season

NFL's chief medical officer says league won't force players to get COVID-19 vaccines ahead of 2021 season

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As the NFL dives deeper into its second straight offseason during the COVID-19 pandemic, already some of last year’s restrictions have been scaled back as more Americans receive vaccinations for the coronavirus. The upcoming NFL Draft, for instance, will not be fully virtual as it was in 2020, with NFL Network reporting that teams will even be permitted to have a select number of personnel gather in draft rooms. And while at least some COVID-19 protocols figure to remain in place during the 2021 season, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said Thursday that the league does not have any plans to mandate player vaccinations.

Speaking with NFL Network’s Judy Battista on “NFL Now,” Sills says the NFL and NFL Players Association instead intend to prioritize the relaying of vaccine education. Players will also be encouraged to get vaccines, if possible.

The stance differs slightly from rules already in place for the 2021 draft, at which up to 10 team personnel will be allowed to gather in a draft room only if they are fully vaccinated. But it mirrors policies already seen in other professional sports leagues, such as the NBA, which is not mandating players get vaccines in order to finish the 2020-21 season.

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