The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals have made COVID-19 immunizations mandatory for all non-playing, full-time employees, making them the first two MLB organisations to do so.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Astros leadership sent out emails to non-playing employees in late July, saying those who don’t abide by the policy “will be subject to termination.” The team set a Sept. 1 deadline for its non-playing staff to receive both vaccination shots.
The Nationals alerted staff earlier this month that they will be required to produce proof of vaccination or request a medical or religious exemption from being immunised. The deadline for providing proof, according to ESPN, was Thursday.
Exemptions are scheduled to be vetted in September, and employees who do not have an exemption or proof of vaccination will be fired.
“Like many organizations, the Washington Nationals decided to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all full-time staff,” the team said in a statement to ESPN. “Employees were notified of this policy on August 12 and had until August 26 to either provide proof of full vaccination, proof of first shot or apply for an exemption.
“As a company, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep one another safe and felt that mandating vaccines was the absolute right thing to do for our employees and our community.”
Vaccination regulations in professional sports in North America have become more frequent outside of Major League Baseball. Several NHL teams have made vaccines necessary for all employees, and the NBA announced on Friday that certain staff, including coaches, front-office officials, and medical personnel, would be required to get vaccinated.
Many NFL teams have vaccination policies, and the league has advocated a vaccine mandate for players, which the NFL Players Association has strongly opposed.