CHICAGO (AP) — More than 90% of the traveling party for the Chicago White Sox got the COVID-19 vaccine after their home opener, moving the team closer to meeting Major League Baseball’s threshold for relaxing some of the protocols put in place for the pandemic.
Showing an unusual amount of transparency for the sport, the White Sox announced the step before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. The team said in a release that “virtually the entire” traveling party had received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and general manager Rick Hahn put the number at “well in excess of 90%.”
“We got to an extraordinarily high percentage of those eligible participating and we couldn’t be happier with that,” Hahn said.
In its release, the team thanked the city, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center for their help with the vaccinations.
Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent a memo to players and staff last month that said some of the sport’s coronavirus-related restrictions would be eliminated once 85% of the team’s major league players and primary field staff are vaccinated. The memo said players and staff are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose vaccine.
While the White Sox got most of their traveling party vaccinated on Thursday, Hahn said they haven’t met the 85% threshold because it also includes players and staff at the club’s alternate site in Schaumburg. But he thinks the organization will reach 85% “in the coming weeks.”
In the meantime, under MLB protocols, there are individual benefits to the vaccine for players and staff. Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms.
“I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else,” said shortstop Danny Mendick, a vaccinated player. “You know what I mean? It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in.”
For Hahn, the team’s vaccination program had at least one benefit very specific to his job.
“When my phone rings and it’s (head athletic trainer) James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related, having dealt with all of last summer and spring this year with that risk,” Hahn said. “I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort in spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of the pandemic.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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