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NFL not planning pre-Super Bowl COVID-19 vaccinations, Goodell says

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has not determined the capacity allowed for Super Bowl LV and will not distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to players or personnel before the game. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has not determined the capacity allowed for Super Bowl LV and will not distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to players or personnel before the game. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The NFL is not planning to inoculate players or personnel with the COVID-19 vaccine before Super Bowl LV in February, commissioner Roger Goodell said on a conference call.

Goodell made the comments on Monday after hospitals nationwide began to administer the first COVID-19 vaccines to health workers. Super Bowl LV is scheduled for Feb. 7 in Tampa, Fla., and the playoffs start Jan. 9. There are three weeks remaining in the regular season.

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"We are not planning on any of our personnel being vaccinated in advance of the Super Bowl," Goodell told reporters, according to the Tampa Bay Times and WFLA-TV.

"That's obviously being done at higher levels and given priority to healthcare workers, first responders and those that are in the riskiest state. We don't fall into those categories, so we don't anticipate that and we're not planning for that."

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In October, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave clearance for sports stadiums in the state to open at full capacity. However, no NFL teams have hosted more than 25% of their stadiums' capacities so far this season.

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The NFL has not yet announced the capacity that will be allowed for Super Bowl LV.

"We're going to try to bring in as many fans as we can safely do into [Tampa's] Raymond James Stadium," Goodell said. "I'm not sure there is a specific number that we are confident saying, 'This is what it will be,' but obviously our focus will be on keeping them safe, whoever is [allowed] in."

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Goodell said the NFL has less than a 1% COVID-19 positivity rate. The 2020-21 season began with dozens of player opt-outs and several games have been rescheduled -- but none canceled -- as the campaign enters Week 15. The league also has made repeated adjustments to its COVID-19 safety protocol in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

The latest round of NFL COVID-19 test results -- released on Dec. 8 -- showed 18 positives from players and 27 from other personnel from Nov. 29 through Dec. 5.

The league said 173 players and 297 personnel members tested postitive between Aug. 1 and Dec. 5. A total of 757,100 tests were administered to players and personnel from Aug. 1 to Nov. 28.

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