Premier League clubs have been accused of failing in their ‘moral responsibility’ to ensure all players have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Several clubs have privately admitted they will not make two jabs mandatory for squads even though fans at nearly all top-flight matches could soon be required to have had both vaccinations.

Others are unwilling to reveal whether players will need to have had two vaccinations in the new season, despite the risks of widespread disruption being underlined this weekend when five Everton players were forced to isolate.

Public health experts have criticised the clubs for not seeking to set an example that would encourage young people to get vaccinated and help Britain’s attempt to return to a semblance of normality.

‘It’s about leadership, moral responsibility and trust,’ Professor John Ashton, the former director of public health for the North West, said. ‘The clubs have got a duty of care towards their staff and their supporters to make sure they’re safe. They should be doing everything within their power to encourage all of the people at the club to be vaccinated and to maintain a sensible precaution. It’s pretty clear that the clubs aren’t really doing social distancing, even now.’

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam urged all Premier League players to get vaccinated as soon as possible at a virtual meeting with the 20 team captains on August 2.
Organised in conjunction with the Premier League, the meeting was designed to dispel myths around the Covid vaccine after several players expressed concerns.

‘If the rule is that you can’t come as a spectator unless you’ve been double jabbed, then the same surely has to apply to staff and players,’ said Dr Peter English, the former chair of the BMA’s public health medicine committee.

The Government has drawn up plans that would require anyone attending an event from October that attracts a crowd of 20,000-plus to be fully vaccinated, albeit the situation remains fluid.

This newspaper asked all Premier League clubs whether they would require players also to have been fully vaccinated. Several declined to answer, citing issues around medical confidentiality — grounds English and Ashton said were invalid.

Ashton, the author of Blinded by Corona: How the Pandemic Ruined Britain’s Health and Wealth and What to Do about It, added: ‘This is all about money. It’s all about getting people through the gates.’


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