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NASCAR Won't Require COVID-19 Vaccinations, Says President Steve Phelps

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2021

NASCAR President Steve Phelps speaks during a news conference before the NASCAR Cup Series Championship auto race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Terry Renna/Associated Press

NASCAR president Steve Phelps is encouraging his drivers to get COVID-19 vaccinations, but he said they will not make it a requirement. 

"It is important, in my opinion, that people get vaccinated," Phelps told reporters Sunday. "We will continue to monitor and change our policy as necessary in order to make sure that people are safe."

He isn't currently considering mandating vaccinations as that would be a "slippery slope," but he does want the competitors to be leaders.

"As it relates to the driver core, I think you'll probably see more and more, and we'll ask the drivers frankly to try to promote the vaccination process," Phelps said. "They have a voice. That voice carries a lot of weight."

Several drivers have already said they have received their vaccines, including seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. Bubba Wallace also partnered with Novant Health to educate people on the safety and efficacy of the shot.

IndyCar has been more aggressive and said at least 90 percent of the paddock has received at least one vaccine shot.

In NASCAR, some notable drivers have refused to discuss the vaccine and called it a "personal choice," including Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott.

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Other sports leagues have encouraged vaccines but have stopped short of making it a requirement for players. MLB created more relaxed protocols for teams that have 85 percent of personnel vaccinated. The NBA also has expanded benefits for those who are fully vaccinated. 

The NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said in a memo they won't make the vaccine mandatory but "hope everyone gets vaccinated."

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