By Rob Rains
The Cardinals are “hopeful” they will be able to acquire a COVID-19 vaccine for members of their traveling party in advance of Thursday’s opener in Cincinnati, perhaps as early as Monday night.
John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, said the vaccine would be the Johnson and Johnson one-shot option. Getting the shots on Monday night would give the team 48 hours to monitor any potential symptoms of side effects before playing on Thursday.
“Our understanding is if you have a 48-hour window you tend to be fairly safe,” Mozeliak said.
The team will not require individuals to be vaccinated but both Mozeliak and manager Mike Shildt have said they will receive the shot and are hopeful that that will be the case with as many players and staff members as possible.
“I don’t have a survey to share with you at this moment, but I would say I’m hopeful people will do it,” Mozeliak said during a media zoom call on Monday. “Obviously more vaccines that go into arms ultimately the more freedom or normalcy we will be able to experience.”
The vaccine rollout for teams has been based on protocols provided by state and local authorities.
“Really excited about the opportunity that’s going to be available to the group to get their vaccine,” Shildt said. “I don’t know exactly what the threshold is or what that allows us, but I know it will open up our world quite a bit if we reach a certain number.
“I’m going to respect everybody’s individual rights to take it or not take it, but I’m just mostly glad it’s available and excited about that and the possibilities moving forward if we can meet a certain threshold.”
The threshold reportedly is 85 percent of Tier I individuals, which would allow some of the current health and safety protocols to be relaxed.
The Cardinals had been hopeful that they could have been able to get everyone vaccinated before they left Florida after Monday’s final game of spring training, but that did not happen.
Mozeliak also said he expects the vaccine to be available to those heading to the Cardinals alternate site camp before it is scheduled to open next week. He also said he was confident all of the team’s minor league players should be able to get vaccinated before their seasons are scheduled to begin in early May.
That’s another positive development for baseball, Mozeliak said, considering when spring training began there were many unanswered questions about not only how that would go, as well as what to expect in the regular season.
The Cardinals did not have any players or staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 after their camp opened in Jupiter in mid February.
“I think it’s kind of remarkable really, getting through camp,” Mozeliak said. “Even though the vaccines are flowing, they haven’t quite flowed to us yet. Fingers crossed that in the near future that will happen. Ultimately I think that will be the key to the 162 (game season). The optimism of what you feel today versus early February is way different.
“To be able to experience what we’ve experienced and got through was something that is very impressive for the game of baseball and is a compliment to all players and staff that were Tier 1’s and Tier 2’s because it appears we are going to get through it. Now we have to take that next step.”
Mozeliak said he did have a sense that in Florida, which has seemed to be more open than other states, some people have perhaps prematurely started to relax and “let their guard down” and not be as diligent about following health and safety protocols.
“There’s a little sense (in Florida) that the pandemic is behind us and I don’t think that’s a healthy mentality yet,” he said. “As more shots go in arms I think people will have that feeling but I don’t think we are quite there yet. Certainly optimistic directionally about where we are headed.”
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Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports