Major League Baseball has indicated it will not cut the line to acquire COVID-19 vaccinations for players, according to a league statement given to Evan Drellich of The Athletic. MLB will receive vaccinations on the timeline set forth by public health officials.
Here's the statement MLB gave Drellich:
"Like the NBA, Major League Baseball and its clubs will work with public health authorities on issues related to the availability and timing of vaccinations for players and other employees," MLB said in a statement to The Athletic. "Vaccinations will only be made available to players when public health officials deem it appropriate."
Earlier this month the National Basketball Association advised teams vaccinations will be "consistent with the timing and prioritization set by applicable public health guidelines." It was recently reported the National Hockey League was planning to privately purchase the vaccine prior to their upcoming season, though that report was shot down soon thereafter.
"It goes without saying that in no form or way will we jump the line," NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters earlier this month. "We will wait our turn to get the vaccine."
Drellich says MLB has not yet issued a memo to teams regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, though that likely has more to do with the schedule than anything. The NBA started its regular season last week and the NHL will begin its regular season in two weeks. Spring training is still seven weeks away and Opening Day is three months away, at least.
Even while doing the smart thing and deferring to public health officials, there will be complications and possibly backlash with the vaccination process. Once MLB players, the vast majority of whom are young and in good health, are able to receive the vaccine, will they be given preferential treatment and receive it before regular folks in their vaccination group?
Further complicating the vaccination process is the ongoing labor war between MLB and the MLBPA. MLB wants to delay the 2021 season until games can be played with fans in the stands while the MLBPA wants to play a full season, with or without fans. It's all about money. The MLBPA wants a full season with full pay, and MLB doesn't want to do that without full attendance.
Vaccine distribution is underway in the United States, beginning with frontline health care workers. Federal recommendations say people over the age of 75 are next, followed by people ages 65-74, then those ages 16-64 with underlying health issues that put them at higher risk.