The first group of Toronto FC personnel has received its first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with more to follow.
General manager Ali Curtis, currently in Mexico for the MLS team's Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League game against Club Leon on Wednesday, said he was among six to eight staff members vaccinated Saturday in Florida.
Non-travelling players and staff were due to get vaccinated Tuesday in Orlando, where TFC has set up shop for the 2021 season due to pandemic-related border restrictions.
Curtis said he expected the rest of the travelling party would be vaccinated Friday upon their return to Florida.
"Really good news," said Curtis.
Veteran Toronto midfielder Nick DeLeon has already said he does not plan to be vaccinated, despite the urging of government and health authorities to do so.
"I've never had vaccines, I don't get the flu shot. I don't do any of that,'' he said last month. "I don't take medicine, I don't take prescription crap, any of that. That's my personal choice and that's the way I choose to live my life. And I will not change that for anybody.
"`I know who I am and I'm confident in it."
While Curtis said the MLS club is "respectful of people's opinions," he said TFC believes the vaccinations are a "key component to getting out of this pandemic."
The GM said he expects Major League Soccer to have policies in place pertaining to post-vaccination protocols.
"They've asked that we make them aware of what our planning is and who's getting vaccinated," he said. "Personally I took the vaccine. We're encouraging our staff and our players to get the vaccine. With that being said, it's not mandatory. You can't force someone to go and get a vaccine. We think it's important though."
To that end, TFC held a recent Zoom call for all players and staff with four doctors including an infectious diseases specialist to answer questions about the vaccines.
"He was able to address all questions and comments that players have regarding vaccinations," said Curtis.
"What we are trying to do as a club is to be responsible about providing all our staff and all of our players with as much information, as possible regarding vaccinations and the benefits of it," he added.
Inter Miami CF said Monday that its players had received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Inter Miami CF Stadium vaccination site. As of Monday, everyone 18 or older in Florida is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
The vaccination site at Inter Miami CF Stadium has been open since Jan. 12, 2021, with up to 1,500 pre-registered patients receiving their shots per day.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press