Athlete turned pro-life activist Ben Watson, an outspoken Christian, on Sunday spoke out about the rights of athletes to refuse getting vaccinated for COVID amidst the Biden administration's push to get more Americans inoculated after it failed to meet its 70% vaccination rate by July 4th.
The former NFL star said that professional athletes should be allowed to forego the COVID vaccines as long as they follow COVID testing and mask mandates.
"I feel strongly about the right of players to make their own decisions concerning the COVID-19 vaccine. I also understand the importance of protecting the health and safety of the locker room and staff," Watson said during an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" on Sunday, a short clip of which was posted to Facebook, the Christian Post reported.
"But it is disingenuous for the NFL to impose disparate penalties for players/clubs during outbreaks based solely on vaccination status, while simultaneously claiming to support player decisions," the 40 year old former NFL star and football tight end said. "That is coercion and it's obvious."
Watson now serves as the vice president of the NFL Players Association, which the morning show asked about its position on mandatory COVID vaccination for professional athletes. The athlete and father of two responded by confirming how the union joined the NFL in adhering to "protocols such as masking, contact tracing, social distancing" and highlighted how these precautions were effective in slowing the spread of COVID.
Watson reiterated that "if a player does not want to get vaccinated, we will stand behind him 100 percent" because "players need to have agency when it comes to what they decide to put in their bodies." However, the NFLPA president said that players who decline to get the COVID vaccine must understand that they will be "subject to the same rules as last year" when it comes to accessing team facilities.
Kaiser Health News reported that the NFL is targeting to get 85% of all NFL teams vaccinated for COVID to reach some sort of herd immunity against the disease in the locker room. But right now, only 58% of San Francisco 49ers players have been vaccinated compared to 76% of its surrounding community.
The Associated Press reported that President Joe Biden is set to announce on Thursday a new mandate that will require federal workers to either get vaccinated for COVID or must comply with regular testing, strict social distancing, masking, and travel restrictions and mandates.
After a White House internal policy review, a person familiar with the president's plans spoke to the media and shared these details that the Commander in Chief has not announced publicly yet. The insider added that the new guideline for federal employees to get vaccinated for COVID is not a vaccine mandate and that employees who refrain from getting the COVID jab must not fear losing their jobs.
The move comes after CDC brought back its mask mandate, this time for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in indoor public settings to help prevent the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID, which has caused another wave of lockdowns in different countries all over the world.