Reports emerged earlier in the day that players for the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals plan to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots before Opening Day, and also that MLB will relax coronavirus-related health and safety guidelines for clubs that have at least 85% of Tier 1 players vaccinated.
Per Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said on Monday his club may not hit the 85% mark due to players opting against vaccination:
Interesting to hear manager Mike Shildt say today he's not certain #STLCards will hit 85% due to some potentially choosing against vaccination. Suggested it might be close. MLB has said it can't/won't force players to get vaccinated, but relaxed protocols are clear incentive. https://t.co/0OThOJ3ut6— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) March 29, 2021
As Frederickson noted, none of the so-called "big four" North American professional sports leagues are mandating that players and other personnel receive COVID-19 vaccines to participate in seasons. Commissioners and executives are instead hoping promises of relaxed restrictions will convince athletes to get shots as soon as possible.
The Cardinals were one of several MLB teams to experience a COVID-19 outbreak last summer during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. In August, Shildt explained that multiple individuals associated with the club made trips to the emergency room while battling coronavirus symptoms.
At least five NBA teams have reportedly had some employees, including players, receive COVID-19 vaccines.