Premier League footballers are finally agreeing to Covid-19 vaccinations with 68 per cent now double jabbed and 81 per cent having had at least one dose.
It comes after Sportsmail revealed the reluctance among players to being vaccinated. At the start of October, only a third of all top-flight footballers had been double jabbed. Club officials were concerned about dressing rooms being ‘polluted’ by senior players spreading conspiracy theories involving infertility and the power of vitamins.
But Tuesday’s figures, released by the Premier League, are the first suggestion that players are now listening to their clubs and the authorities.
Richarlison has received his jab but Premier League clubs have lagged in vaccination battle
Now, the Premier League has confirmed that 81 per cent of players have had one jab
Sportsmail has also reported how only seven of the Premier League’s 20 clubs had succeeded in convincing more than 50 per cent of their players to be fully vaccinated.
The Premier League finally revealed the details of vaccination status in England’s top tier after weeks of refusing to open up on the numbers and citing medical confidentiality.
They said in a statement on Tuesday: ‘We can confirm today that 81 per cent of players have received at least one Covid-19 vaccination dose with 68 per cent now fully vaccinated.
Jonathan Van-Tam has urged Premier League stars to get the jab in a personalised video
‘Vaccination rates are collected by the Premier League on a weekly basis and the League continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff.
‘No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and player vaccination rates will be communicated at appropriate intervals in the future.’
The detail comes just days after a Mail on Sunday survey found that almost all other top leagues have a much higher vaccine take-up rate than English football.
Rival sports have attributed their success to reasons that include top athletes promoting the jab and tougher restrictions for unvaccinated players, neither of which have happened in the Premier League.
The Premier League has lacked such a spokesperson among top players with conspiracy theories about virility and heart defects being shared among WhatsApp groups.
They were unable to persuade its players to take part in a similar publicity campaign despite myth-bunking videos from the UK’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam.
Everton striker Richarlison was revealed to be a rare advocate last week.
The Brazilian has been involved in campaigns encouraging people in Brazil to get vaccinated and posted a picture on social media of himself receiving his second jab.
Government advisor Van-Tam, meanwhile, has repeatedly worked with clubs to encourage players to get vaccinated.
In a video sent to Premier League clubs, Van-Tam warned players they could risk their careers by contracting long Covid and also underlined other benefits of taking the vaccine.
Van-Tam’s video has not been made available to the public but is being distributed by clubs to players via WhatsApp videos and is delivered in Van-Tam’s unique and direct style: ‘The best protection for you and for everyone — and I’m not mincing my words here — is the vaccine,’ Van-Tam tells the players. ‘I’m going to give you some scientific facts which I think you as professional footballers need…’
He then deals with one of the key reasons footballers have cited for not getting the vaccine, which is that there’s no point as you can still catch Covid.
Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow was hospitalised with Covid, losing five kilos from fatigue
Van-Tam says: ‘A few footballers have been hospitalised with Covid. This is not a joke.
‘If you have two doses of Pfizer, it will cut your chances of being ill by 85 per cent and cut your chances of ending up in hospital or dying by 95 per cent.
‘It should be pretty obvious that if you don’t get Covid, you can’t get long Covid. And you don’t want long Covid if you’re a top sportsman.’
Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow revealed in September that he spent three days on a hospital drip after catching the virus shortly before he was about to have his first vaccine in July.
Speaking to the BBC about his ordeal, Darlow said: ‘I ended up driving myself into hospital about 11 or 12 o’clock at night, just so I could get hydrated, because I wasn’t able to swallow with my glands so swollen.
‘I was severely worried. When it was at it’s worst… I didn’t want it to affect my breathing. I knew that if I could get in and get on a drip and get the food and water into myself, I’d be OK but there’s always a thing, in the back of your mind, that if it does get into your breathing, then you are in serious trouble.
‘It was probably two or three weeks, even after I’d been diagnosed, that I was still going home sleeping in the afternoon for two, three hours and then after probably 9-10 hours at night.
‘I had nearly every single symptom, I think. The hot and cold, diarrhoea, everything, it wasn’t nice. Weight wise, I wasn’t able to eat or drink for three or four days, so I ended up losing about five kilos. I don’t think Lucy, my partner, could believe just how gaunt I was in the face and how much weight I had lost.’
Darlow added his experience made a few of his Newcastle team-mates get jabbed but added that several were still resistant to having the vaccine.
Wolves star Ruben Neves has insisted there is ‘no proof’ that the Covid-19 vaccination is bad
‘I think seeing how I was probably convinced them to go and get it done,’ he added. ‘So it’s tough, because everyone who isn’t having it has their own reason, and sometimes it’s hard to convince or go into deep conversation with your team-mates about getting vaccinated if they have a very good reason, and you can’t force it upon people.’
Last week, it emerged the entire Wolves squad had been fully vaccinated.
‘When you are in a moment like we are and find you are getting better and getting [back] to normal, when you have something that can help us to have a normal life and there is no proof that it is bad, I think we just need to take it,’ Wolves star Ruben Neves told Sky Sports.
‘We need to think about all the people around us, to be really good for the ones who take it and the ones that we are around.’