The Premier League have teamed up with the Government to urge football supporters to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations – and to stay away from games if they display any symptoms.
In a video released today, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam has offered fans advice on how to stay safe and prevent spreading the virus, while also insisting that there is still a ‘role to play’.
The message from Professor Van-Tam is the latest step taken by the authorities to ensure that spectators and players are protected from coronavirus, in light of the restrictions across the UK being relaxed.
‘I’m a massive football fan and, like you, I’m absolutely delighted to be back in the grounds watching games again this season,’ Van-Tam says in the clip.
He then goes on to add: ‘We’ve just got to face facts, haven’t we? Covid has not gone away. And if we, as supporters, want to keep attending matches, we’ve got to do our bit to keep ourselves and other people safe.’
For the rest of the video, Van-Tam tells fans to avoid attending games if they feel unwell, potentially with Covid-19, and urges them to get tested instead.
Jonathan Van-Tam has given supporters advice to stay safe when attending top-flight fixtures
Mass crowds have been allowed to return this season with coronavirus restrictions relaxed
Getting two jabs is another safeguard, Van-Tam explains. ‘It genuinely reduces your chances of getting the virus, and of being hospitalised or dying,’ he says.
This is the second time that top-flight officials have resorted to putting together a video with the Government to help counter the myths around the vaccine, and to plead to people to accept them.
Van-Tam agreed to help clear up misinformation around the jabs, with concern growing over footballers refusing to get innoculated. He recorded the footage last week, answering a series of questions.
That was created to be shared among players, in an attempt to avoid more Covid-enforced setbacks for the new season. The second video made with Van-Tam is the recent one directed at supporters.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Van-Tam offered to clear up misinformation for the vaccines
Sportsmail has reported previously that the message was expected to be shared on the Premier League’s social media accounts, and indeed that proved the case.
The pressure to get jabs is set to ramp up, with the Government poised to meet to discuss plans to make vaccine passports mandatory for anyone attending an event with over a 20,000 capacity crowd.
Ministers are expected to make it compulsory for fans to have had both doses of the vaccine, with fears raised that fixtures may become hotspots for Covid.
Sources told Sportsmail that the Department of Health and Social Care were in contact with the Premier League over the summer to speak about the role footballers may play in encouraging young people to be jabbed.
It is expected that vaccine passports will become mandatory for crowds of above 20,000
Van-Tam is a supporter of Boston United, and was eager to be involved with the campaign and record the videos.
He also weighed in at a virtual meeting of the top-flight’s captains’ group on August 2, along with the Premier League medical officer Mark Gillett, to address the conspiracies circulating among players.
But despite these efforts, it was revealed by The Telegraph that almost a third of players in the Football League were not immunised, and had no plans to get jabbed.
In fact, the data collected by the publication found that only around 70 per cent of EFL stars at its 72 clubs had received at least one dose, or intended to get one.
Granit Xhaka opted against being vaccination but was forced to isolate after testing positive
The pandemic has already begun to wreak havoc with fixtures this term, meanwhile. Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was forced into isolation after he chose not to have his vaccine, and then tested positive for Covid.
Xhaka’s team-mates Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were among four Arsenal players who missed their season opener against Brentford after also returning positive Covid results.
Now, manager Mikel Arteta has warned his unvaccinated players that the club will ‘pay the price’ for them refusing to get their doses.
‘Obviously, it will limit certain aspects if they don’t (get vaccinated), because we don’t want to expose ourselves in certain things,’ Arteta said.
Mikel Arteta has warned his Arsenal players the club will ‘pay the price’ for their lack of jabs
‘For example, travelling. If they are not vaccinated and they travel or socialise in certain situations, obviously the risk increases a lot.
‘We don’t want that exposure with any of our players. Because, at the end, the team and the club will pay the price.’
As a result, he is keen for all of his stars to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
‘We are trying to explain all of the reasons why we believe this is the right thing to do,’ he added.
Strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Alexandre Lacazette both contracted the virus
‘First of all how it will protect the club, and secondly the team-mates, the environment they are around and the exposure they will have if they don’t do it.
‘We have to be on the same page and understand all the facts. The personal facts that someone can have are for many different reasons. Maybe it’s health reasons, a contradiction that he has, the way he’s been educated or something he believes.
‘The other thing is – what is best for the club and the team to try minimise any risk of the player contracting the virus or passing it to anyone else?
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce said players were being deterred by conspiracy theories
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted not all of his players were jabbed
‘But it’s a personal matter, not an obligation, and we have to respect that.’
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce admitted that members of their squads had also refused to be vaccinated.
Bruce admitted players were being deterred by myths about the supposed risks of the vaccine and the motivation behind its rollout, while Solskjaer said some of his stars were ‘not sure’ about getting it.
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There is a real split. The ATP Tour said ‘just above 50 per cent’ of players have been vaccinated.
The situation has not been helped by huge stars such as Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas questioning vaccines.
World No 3 Tsitsipas said: ‘For me the vaccine has not been tested enough, it is new, it has some side-effects. For young people, I think it’s good to pass the virus because we will build immunity.’
Andy Murray believes players have ‘a responsibility’ to get jabbed while two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka said it’s ‘bizarre that fans have to be vaccinated and players are not’.
THE PGA Tour told The Mail on Sunday that more than 85 per cent of players and caddies are fully vaccinated while the European Tour said a ‘significant majority’ had been.
One player who hasn’t been jabbed is Bryson DeChambeau despite missing the Olympics after contracting coronavirus.
‘The vaccine doesn’t necessarily prevent it from happening. I don’t need it. I’m healthy,’ said the former US Open champion.
The PGA Tour of America are understood to have written to potential Ryder Cup selections asking if they would get vaccinated.
Around 96 per cent of England’s international players during the pandemic have been double jabbed. The ECB want everyone vaccinated by the end of the summer so that anyone selected for cricket over the winter is fully protected when travelling.
England captain Joe Root recently backed calls for more volunteers at vaccination centres: ‘The NHS have been amazing throughout these unprecedented times,’said Root. ‘Please show your support by volunteering with the vaccine rollout this summer.
‘Let’s make sure we’re doing everything we can to look out for each other and the generations to come.’
Premiership Rugby would not give exact vaccination figures but said they ‘encourage all players and management to be double vaccinated as soon as possible’.
The British & Irish Lions were vaccinated before their tour of South Africa, though it will not be mandatory for players to be jabbed in this season’s Premiership.
England centre Henry Slade was criticised in May after saying he wouldn’t have the jab because he ‘didn’t agree with it at all’.
‘I don’t think you can trust it, can you,’ he said. He later claimed he wasn’t offering advice to the public but going on his past experiences of living with diabetes.’