NFL Requiring Boosters for Tier 1 Employees by December 27th

Jamie Lamor Thompson /
Jamie Lamor Thompson /

It has been reported by ESPN that the NFL had 37 positive cases of COVID-19. At least one of these new cases was from the Omicron variant in the Washington Football Team organization. It did not take long after this news of the 37 positive tests that the league released a memo directing that all Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff members were mandated to receive COVID-19 booster shots by December 27th. This would be necessary if they were to be considered fully vaccinated. Ah, here’s that term resurfacing again. We think someone’s been listening to too much Dr. Fauci.

On November 29th, the Center for Disease Control issued a study that revealed the effectiveness of the approved COVID-19 vaccines may decrease over time. The CDC has recommended in the study that all eligible vaccinated individuals over the age of 18 should receive a booster shot. The NFL wrote in a memo that given the increased prevalence of the virus in various communities, the medical experts now recommend the implementation of the CDC’s recommendations.

The memo was sent to all 32 clubs and it reiterated the league’s position of being vaccinated as the “most effective” method of being protected against COVID-19. It said that their own data has shown that unvaccinated players have contracted the virus from close contacts at a much greater rate than vaccinated players.

This is what went out to all NFL employees, “In accordance with the CDC recommendation, all Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff, who have previously been vaccinated and are eligible under CDC guidelines, must receive a booster shot no later than December 27.”

Before the start of the 2021 season, the NFL required all Tier 1 staff to be fully vaccinated unless they had a medical or religious exemption. Tier 1 includes coaches, front-office executives, equipment managers, and staff.

The decision by the NFL had a quick impact, several of the coaches refused to receive the vaccine. The Minnesota Vikings moved Assistant Coach Rick Dennison to a new role, Senior Offensive Advisor, because he refused to receive the vaccine and now could not be around players.

The NFL has made clear the steps necessary to be considered fully vaccinated. The first is that an individual who received a second Pfizer or Moderna shot to complete their primary vaccine series more than six months ago must now receive a booster shot. Second, an individual who received a Johnson and Johnson shot more than two months earlier should receive a booster shot. And third, individuals can choose any approved vaccine for their booster shot.

The NFL is planning to allow exemptions for anyone who might have high levels of antibodies. There will also be an exemption for those who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or received monoclonal antibodies in the past 90 days. The league clarified that an individual whose “S” antibody level on a test administered by BRL at the club facility is 2500 or greater is not subject to the booster requirement. Well, at least there’s some science being used in this mandate…

At this point, the NFL does not have a vaccine mandate for their players, but they have implemented strict rules for any players who remain unvaccinated.

If a player has not received the vaccine, testing for COVID-19 is required every day. They must also wear masks when they are at the team facilities and while traveling. And they may not use the sauna/steam room. Unvaccinated players are also prohibited from leaving the team hotel to eat at restaurants, and they are not permitted to participate in media, marketing, or sponsorship activities. Even further, social activities are not permitted.

The NFL held an even tighter grip during the Thanksgiving holiday. There was increased testing and required masks at team facilities regardless of a person’s vaccination status. This is likely to continue throughout the rest of the season unless the government stops allowing mandates to appear sporadically — and to redefine what “fully” vaccinated looks like.