Major League Baseball is requiring all coaches to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations in order to access restricted areas and to have in-person contact with players in Spring Training, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. Any staff member who hasn’t yet been fully vaccinated must at least receive one dose of the Pfizer/Moderna two-dose vaccines and have their second appointment scheduled. Those who are not fully vaccinated or elect not to get a booster shot once they become eligible would forfeit their field access unless granted an exemption by their team.
As Rosenthal notes, this isn’t unprecedented. MLB required this for non-playing personnel to participate in the postseason last September. He adds that MLB has not yet decided whether this policy will carry over into the regular season.
One coach, who said they are fully vaccinated, nevertheless expressed frustration about the mandate when speaking with Rosenthal. “There are some that are not happy about the mandated booster. They feel if the players don’t have to, why us?,” the coach said. “I’m not anti-vax. I just don’t like people saying if you don’t do this, you’re fired … MLB put this on us right after the lockout. Calculated. They could’ve told us months ago.”
Players are not required to be vaccinated. That would need to be collectively bargained with the MLB Players Association. However, unvaccinated players will probably be unable to cross the Canadian border to partake in games held at the Rogers Centre. They will not be paid nor will they accrue service time for games missed on account of vaccination status.