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MLB appears to be taking the first step in going back to normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, minor league ball players will not be required to be vaccinated for the upcoming 2022 season. Managers, coaches and on-field staff, however, will have different rules.
“Managers, coaches and on-field staff must be ‘up to date’ on COVID vaccinations to have in-person contact with players,” Passan said. “Currently unvaccinated staff can get a shot before the start of minor league spring training. Staff can avoid being vaccinated via ‘only bona fide religious and medical exemption requests.’”
Per an MLB spokesperson’s statement sent to Passan, vaccinations are still strongly encouraged by the league. It’s unclear if major leaguers will be required to be vaccinated as part of the next collective bargaining agreement that’s currently being negotiated.
MLB did not require players to be vaccinated during the 2021 season. All non-playing personnel, including managers and coaches, were required to be vaccinated ahead of the playoffs in October.
Should the new mandate apply to major leaguers, MLB has a chance to set a precedent among other major sports leagues in 2022. The NHL has already announced it will stop testing asymptomatic players and staff members following the All-Star break on Feb. 4-5. The NFL is currently not testing any asymptomatic players, regardless of vaccination status.
The NBA is still testing unvaxxed players daily, even if asymptomatic, through at least Feb. 17.
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