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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In the latest attempt to encourage players to get vaccinated, the NFL is threatening forfeits and the loss of game checks if an outbreak occurs.

Driving the news: If a game can't be played due to an outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff this upcoming season — and the NFL can't find "a suitable date to reschedule" — the team responsible will forfeit and both teams will lose their game checks.

  • The NFL was able to reschedule all of the games it postponed in 2020, but it seems the league might not be willing to go to the same extremes — like playing on a Tuesday — this time around.
  • If a forfeit occurs, the forfeiting team will be responsible for any shortfall in the league's revenue-sharing pool, and will also be subject to additional sanctions from the commissioner.

Where it stands: As of Thursday, more than 75% of NFL players were at least partially vaccinated and more than half of the league's teams have player vaccination rates above 80%.

  • The NFL effectively mandated vaccinations for coaches, trainers and support staff in April, saying they should all be vaccinated "unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so."
  • Unvaccinated players were already going to be tested daily and not permitted to leave team hotels or eat with their teammates. Now, they could be responsible for the losses of games and paychecks.

The bottom line: The NFL can't force players to get vaccinated, so it's doing the next best thing in an attempt to avoid outbreaks: making the lives of unvaccinated players very uncomfortable.

Go deeper

Harris gets COVID-19 booster shot

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images.

Vice President Kamala Harris received a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, while calling on Americans to get vaccinated to "get through and beyond" the pandemic.

Driving the news: The White House said Harris qualifies for a booster shot due to her job duties that include frequent traveling and interacting with people, AP reports.

Oct 30, 2021 - Health

1 hopeful thing: Nature is healing

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Getting outside is good for us — especially in a pandemic.

The big picture: Nature's benefits for mental health and well-being are part of the human experience and have been studied for decades. But the COVID-19 pandemic is a real-time experiment in studying exactly how green spaces can help us in difficult times.

Oct 30, 2021 - Health

Axios AM Deep Dive: Our mental health crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mental health care was already inequitable and in short supply in the U.S. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by health care reporter Caitlin Owens, looks at how the pandemic made it worse.