Daily Mail


- By MATT HUGHES Chief Sports Reporter

FOOTBALL LEAGUE managers and captains were this week told to get vaccinated to protect their families and to ensure they can travel internatio­nally at a summit led by deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam.

Sportsmail has learned that the EFL arranged the virtual briefing attended by representa­tives of all 72 clubs on Monday in an attempt to increase Covid-19 vaccinatio­n rates among players in the lower divisions, which are stuck at about 70 per cent despite them being put under pressure to get jabbed by their clubs. Van-Tam is understood to have used the meeting to dispel myths around vaccinatio­n which players have picked up from

social media. In a question and answer session at the end of the briefing one player asked if the vaccine could reduce his fertility, which was dismissed by Van-Tam (right), who also emphasised that being jabbed would not have any impact on pregnant wives or girlfriend­s. Van-Tam also warned that players in all four divisions have been hospitalis­ed after catching Covid-19, and that getting vaccinated is the most effective line of defence. The players were told that double vaccinatio­n would cut their chances of getting ill by 85 per cent, and reduce the risk of hospitalis­ation by 95 per cent, as well as being reassured that vaccines do not contain any alcohol or animal products. The fact that Covid passports are required to travel widely was also raised. The EFL’s interventi­on is the result of considerab­le frustratio­n at clubs with players who are refusing to get vaccinated or delaying their jab, which led them to ask for assistance from the Government. The EFL collected data last month showing about a third of players had not received a single dose of the vaccine and had no plans to do so, sparking alarm that such attitudes could cause matches to be called off in the event of dressingro­om outbreaks. While the EFL’s vaccinatio­n rates are largely in line with those of under 30-year-olds in the general public, numerous clubs have told their players that they have a responsibi­lity to get vaccinated to protect the viability of the competitio­n. Some clubs have even looked at putting compulsory vaccinatio­n clauses in players’ contracts, but have backed away from the idea due to the potential legal ramificati­ons. Van-Tam’s briefing follows a similar address he made to the 20 Premier League captains at the start of August. Several managers subsequent­ly admitted that not all of their players had been jabbed. They included Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, who lost Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Ben White to Covid-19 at the start of the season. Newcastle

United manager Steve Bruce revealed ‘a lot’ of his players had not been vaccinated despite goalkeeper Karl Darlow spending a week in hospital with the virus and losing two stone. In the EFL, Middlesbro­ugh’s Neil Warnock has been the most outspoken manager against those refusing to be jabbed. The 72-year-old, who contracted the virus a year ago, said last month: ‘I’ve no idea where they’re getting their advice from, but I think it’s the wrong advice.’

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