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A man prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at Levi's Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers football team, in Santa Clara, California, in February. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The NFL outlined in a memo sent to all 32 teams that support staff, including coaches and trainers, should be vaccinated against COVID-19 "unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so."

Why it matters: Anyone who doesn't fit this category and refuses vaccination will be ineligible for Tier 1 or 2 status and "will not be permitted access to the 'football only' restricted area and may not work directly or in close proximity with players," according to the memo, first reported by the NFL Network.

  • This effectively mandates coronavirus vaccination among all NFL support staff.

Details: Teams will be required to report weekly on how many employees have been inoculated.

  • The memo states that the league is actively discussing with the National Football League Players Association a "set of protocol changes that would apply to clubs where vaccination levels reach a certain threshold."
  • It "would give vaccinated individuals significant relief from requirements related to testing, PPE use, physical distancing, travel and other subjects," the statement added.
  • The NFL expects teams to hold informational sessions with players, staff and their families on vaccinations, using stadiums and training centers as vaccination sites.
"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."
— excerpt from NFL memo

The big picture: The NFL stepped up precautions against the coronavirus early in the pandemic, implementing social distancing, testing, contact tracing and isolation across the board.

  • These health measures were in place for the Super Bowl this February.
  • Officials were also prepared to postpone games and bench players to prevent the spread, Axios' Caitlin Owens notes.

What they're saying: The NFL did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment, but a spokesperson told the New York Times in a statement that its team facilities "proved to be among the safest places in the world in 2020" thanks to "comprehensive protocols that were developed in conjunction with public health officials.

  • "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 statement added.

Of note: The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks announced in separate statements Tuesday they wouldn't join in-person workouts for this offseason in an effort to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Go deeper

John Frank, author of Denver
Apr 12, 2021 - Axios Denver

Colorado governor eases COVID restrictions as state hits "fourth wave"

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Colorado moves to a new phase in its battle against the coronavirus this week, as the Polis administration retires its statewide dial restrictions and punts the responsibility of setting public health limitations to counties.

Why it matters: The new approach, effective Friday, will lead to lesser restrictions in much of the state and create a patchwork of rules about masks, social distancing and capacity limits.

Gaming CEO calls on industry to help fight climate change

"Catalyst Black." Screenshot: Super Evil Megacorp

Gaming CEO Kristian Segerstrale is calling on leaders in his industry to take action on climate change, after completing a $1.4 million fundraising campaign this summer.

Why it matters: Gaming's pandemic-fueled boom creates an opportunity, and maybe even an obligation, to do some good.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Foreign travelers will be allowed entry to the U.S. beginning Nov. 8 if they can provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with a shot authorized by the World Health Organization and a negative test within three days of departure, the White House announced Monday.

Why it matters: The updated guidance, which exempts children under the age of 18 from the vaccine requirement, is intended to provide further clarity for airlines and foreign nationals who have been restricted from traveling to the U.S. since early 2020.