COVID-19, the vaccine, plus sports is messy situation

Writing a column on COVID and vaccines is probably ill-advised. But as a former soccer and basketball official, I’m used to pleasing virtually no one, so what do I have to lose?

The NFL is handling the issue by pressuring players to get the vaccine. In late July, the league informed clubs that it would not extend the season to accommodate a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players that causes a game cancellation.

It’s the clearest language the league has used in delineating the difference between outbreaks among vaccinated individuals and those who elect not to be vaccinated.

Most players complied, but there are exceptions, such as Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, who made it clear he has no plans to be vaccinated.

According to the Los Angeles RamsWire website, no teammate on the Rams will be pressured by Jalen Ramsey into getting the COVID-19 vaccine, despite pressure from the NFL.

Ramsey said he won’t view those on the Rams who are unvaccinated as “bad teammates.” His reasoning? You can still test positive for COVID-19 even if you’re vaccinated, citing two examples of people he knows.

On this summer’s US Olympic team, five out of six US athletes were vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the team’s top doctor, Dr. Jonathan Finnoff.

According to Medicare.gov, with 80% of people 65 and older fully vaccinated, older adults are leading the charge in getting their COVID-19 vaccination.

The overall US vaccination rate is relatively high, with the overwhelming support of government, media, Facebook and YouTube. It has been alleged that Facebook and YouTube even support the pro-vaccination narrative at the expense of free speech. Many feel that a number of professionals, researchers and the public have been censured / blocked from posting anything that remotely questions claims about the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine on Facebook and YouTube.

Not all doctors and scientists share the opinion of the CDC, which has sent mixed signals at times concerning mask and vaccine recommendations and protocol.

According to a story in Forbes, about one out of eight registered nurses and doctors don’t want to take the vaccine and fight efforts to make them do so.

And what do we do with doctors like Dr. Pierre Kory of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, who is passionate about saving lives? He has helped many patients prevent and recover from COVID using anti-viral and anti-inflammatory medicines, with early treatment preferable.

Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor of the mRNA and DNA vaccine core platform technology, has worked closely with the US government for many years. Malone expressed his concerns about the spike protein used in COVID-19 vaccines to the FDA last fall but was dismissed.

Malone says the underlying vaccine logic so far that has been driven globally, is not supported by data. Instead, opinions have replaced evidence-based medicine. He adds that at the beginning of an epidemic, doctors and researchers must make expert statements, but we are past that point. Today there is a lot of data, and he says it is time for decision-makers to start relying on new data and evidence to make public health decisions, but he believes that is not happening.

Malone, who took the vaccine, believes that the vaccines have merit for certain populations, namely the elderly, but is advocating for prohibition on vaccination for infants and newborns, through young adults up to ages 30 to 35. “And specifically,” he said, “I’m trying to stop this crazy effort to force universities and schools to have universal vaccination.”

The science and the issue are way over my head, but let’s be honest. COVID is serious. It has had and continues to have serious ramifications, resulting in many deaths and hospitalizations. We also should be thankful that the majority of people recover.

I agree with Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who earlier this month tweeted, “Can we stop judging people for getting or not getting a COVID vaccine … “

Solutions to the COVID debate are complicated, but here’s a modest suggestion. During these confusing and difficult times, by God’s grace, we would be wise to extend grace to everyone, regardless of where they stand on this issue.

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