Premier League chiefs draft Professor Van-Tam to dispel vaccine myths for jab-refusing players

Premier League officials have used a video with the government urging players to ignore myths around the Covid vaccine.

Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, has agreed to dispel misinformation about the vaccine as footballers refuse to be vaccinated.

Professor Van-Tam on Friday recorded footage in which he answered a series of questions put to him by a Premier League representative.

Premier League chiefs have recruited Jonathan Van-Tam to help dispel vaccine myths for stars who still turn down the jab

It should be split between players imminently to avoid more setbacks imposed by Covid threatening to undermine the new season.

Van-Tam recorded a second video which the Premier League will share with fans to highlight the importance of being fully immune. It is expected to be shared on the Premier League’s social media accounts.

Pressure on players to get the jab is expected to increase this week when the government meets to discuss plans to make vaccine passports mandatory for anyone who attends an event drawing a crowd of over 20,000.

Ministers are expected to force fans to have two doses of the vaccine, fearing the matches will become Covid hotspots.

Sources said the Department of Health and Social Affairs was in contact with the Premier League over the summer about the role footballers could play in encouraging young people to get vaccinated.

Richard Masters, the Premier League CEO, has said he hopes the vast majority of players will have received the vaccine by the end of this month.

Richard Masters, the Premier League CEO, has said he hopes the vast majority of players will have received the vaccine by the end of this month.

The league has returned to DHSC in recent weeks amid growing unease over the number of players who have chosen not to get bitten, as this newspaper has repeatedly pointed out in recent weeks.

Van-Tam, a Boston United fan and avid football fan, was keen to get involved and recorded the videos late last week.

Along with Premier League chief medical officer Mark Gillett, Van Tam had spoken at a virtual meeting of the league captains’ group on August 2 to tackle the myths circulating among players and highlight the importance to pass the jab on to society at large.

Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, said at the time that he hoped the “vast majority” of players would have done so by the end of this month.

However, last week it was revealed that nearly a third of English Football League players were not immune and had no intention of getting bitten.

The Telegraph reported that data collected by the EFL revealed that only around 70% of EFL players at its 72 clubs had received at least one dose of the vaccine or intended to get one.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka isolated himself after choosing not to be vaccinated and later tested positive for the virus

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka isolated himself after choosing not to be vaccinated and later tested positive for the virus

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, meanwhile, isolated himself after choosing not to be vaccinated and later tested positive for the disease while on international duty with Switzerland.

A post from Jose Mourinho’s verified Instagram account replied with the message: “Get the Granit jab and be safe.”

Xhaka’s teammates Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were among four Arsenal players who were excluded from their Premier League defeat by Brentford after testing positive for Covid.

The Scotland and Wales team have been exhausted by Covid for the current international break, with Robert Page’s Welsh side missing 10 players from their previous competitive game for Sunday’s game against Belarus.

Scotland’s original 26-man squad was reduced to 15 outfielders plus three goalkeepers ahead of last week’s World Cup qualifying loss to Denmark. Several players returned for last night’s game against Moldova.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Steve Bruce, his Newcastle counterpart, admitted last month that members of their squads also refused to be vaccinated.

Bruce said players were deterred by conspiracy theories about the vaccine’s supposed risks and the motivation for its deployment, while Solskjaer said his team were “unsure” of getting it.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce said players were deterred by conspiracy theories

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce said players were deterred by conspiracy theories

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted not all of his players were stung

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted not all of his players were stung

A Mail on Sunday survey of clubs in each of the four divisions of the English football pyramid found that clubs whose players chose not to be vaccinated included Cardiff, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Oldham, Bradford, Harrogate and Morecambe .

Cardiff manager Mick McCarthy said: “I’d like to think everyone would want to have it, but not everyone wants it. I don’t know all the conspiracy theories.

“Some people think they chip in and are able to follow you around. They can do that with your phone these days – and every one of them has a phone.

“I had it and I couldn’t wait to have it. I didn’t want to be lying with Covid. It doesn’t seem to affect the younger ones too much. It is their choice and we cannot force them to have it. We’ve had an adult response to this, but while some said yes, others said no.

This newspaper asked every Premier League club last week if they wanted to join Wolves, Leeds and Brentford in revealing what proportion of their squad had been vaccinated, but none did. The majority of them cited medical confidentiality as the reason.

Wolves have confirmed their entire squad has been doubly stung, while Brentford said 89% of their players have had at least one vaccination and most of them are fully vaccinated. Ninety-four percent of his training ground staff have had at least one jab.

Leeds United squad have reportedly been 96% vaccinated with the rest slated to get the jab

Leeds United squad have reportedly been 96% vaccinated with the rest slated to get the jab

The Leeds United squad have reportedly been 96% vaccinated with the rest slated to secure the jab.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has said it is up to footballers to set an example for young people who are reluctant to get vaccinated. “The evidence is overwhelming that getting the vaccine is good for your own health and helps protect others,” he said. “We therefore strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Sports stars are role models and particularly influential with young people.

England manager Gareth Southgate, however, said players should have the freedom to make the call. “The players are old enough to make their own decisions,” said Southgate, “so the coaches can give advice, explain the benefits or whatever, but at the end of the day the players have to make their own decisions.” Across the leagues, he appears to be very different in terms of the players who want [get vaccinated] and the players who don’t. ‘

SPORT-BY-SPORT BATTLE WITH ANTI-VAXXERS

By James Sharpe

TENNIS

There is a real divide. The ATP Tour said “just over 50%” of players have been vaccinated.

The situation has not been helped by huge stars such as Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas questioning vaccines.

World number 3 Tsitsipas said: “For me the vaccine has not been tested enough, it is new, it has side effects. For young people, I think it’s good to transmit the virus because we will strengthen immunity.

Andy Murray believes players have “a responsibility” to get stung while two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka said it was “weird that fans need to be vaccinated and players aren’t”.

GOLF

The PGA Tour told The Mail on Sunday that more than 85% of players and caddies are fully vaccinated, while the European Tour said a “significant majority” had been.

One player who hasn’t been stung is Bryson DeChambeau despite missing the Olympics after contracting coronavirus.

“The vaccine doesn’t necessarily stop it from happening. I do not need it. I’m in good health, ”said the former US Open champion.

The PGA Tour of America reportedly wrote to potential Ryder Cup selections asking if they would be vaccinated.

LOCUST

About 96% of England’s international players during the pandemic were doubly stung. The ECB wants everyone to be vaccinated by the end of the summer so that anyone selected for cricket during the winter is fully protected when traveling.

England captain Joe Root recently backed calls for more volunteers at vaccination centers: “The NHS has been amazing throughout this unprecedented time,” Root said. “Please show your support by volunteering for the vaccine rollout this summer.

“Let’s make sure we do everything we can to take care of each other and the generations to come.”

RUGBY

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 and Irish Lions were vaccinated ahead of their tour of South Africa, although it is not mandatory for players to be bitten during this season’s Premiership.

England center Henry Slade was criticized 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 him, do you,” he said. He later claimed he was not offering advice to the public, but was taking up his past life experiences with diabetes.


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