Health Minister Sajid Javid said it was “disappointing” that at least five members of the English cadre reportedly refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
He said the players are role models who could help encourage others to get the jab.
Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp also said he couldn’t explain why there appears to be a reluctance to vaccinate among Premier League players – when he made a comparison between the reasons for the stab injury and alcohol driving laws.
Their comments came after The Sun reported that five players failed to receive the jab, despite next year’s Qatar World Cup organizers planning to ban all unvaccinated players.
Mr Javid told Times Radio about the creation of a “giant vaccine defense wall,” adding, “I just want to speak to these people, whether they are footballers, whoever it is … that the vaccines work. Help to protect yourself and those around you.
“You made a conscious decision. That is of course disappointing … You are role models in society. I think people, especially young people, will look up to them and they should recognize this and the difference it can make in encouraging others. “
A report this week suggested that only seven of the 20 Premier League clubs managed to fully vaccinate 50% or more of their squads, with the overall average making up about a third of all players.
Liverpool have outperformed most of their rivals in this regard, with Klopp announcing that their vaccination rate is 99%.
Klopp said: “I explain it a bit like drinking and driving. We’ve probably all been in a situation where we had a beer or two and thought, “I can drive”.
“But this law isn’t there to protect me, it’s there to protect all the other people because I’m angry and want to drive. And we accept that as law.
“We all know that alcohol is bad for our bodies, but we drink it anyway. When it comes to vaccination, we assume that it is not good for our body.
“Most specialists tell us that vaccination right now is the solution to the situation.”
Klopp said he felt it was his personal responsibility to consider the lives of others.
He added, “I don’t just take the vaccination to protect myself, I take the vaccination to protect everyone around me.”
Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston said, “I am really grateful to the many sports personalities who have used their celebrity to encourage others to get down on it through campaigning and using their own social media platforms. They are role models and particularly influential among young people.
“There will be some people who can’t get the sting but it’s disappointing to hear that some footballers may not be vaccinated, possibly due to misinformation on the internet.”
Mr Huddleston said it was working with social media companies to tackle fake vaccination news and he joined England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam and urged them to get vaccinated.
Asked about the vaccination rate on the English squad before the story was published, Coach Gareth Southgate said, “I don’t know – our medical team would know but they wouldn’t tell me who it is and who isn’t.
“We’re going to have an idea because in the next few months there will be some things where one group will go through one door and another through another, medical confidentiality.
“I don’t think that will affect us that much because when the players are with us we will always be in a bubble and with one sporting exception, so I think the bigger problem will be” players returning to clubs , or clubs that travel to certain countries.
“What we do know is that vaccination itself with vaccination is not going to stop people from getting their vaccination program open.
“I still have to be advised by those who do not see what the alternatives are.
“But from a team management perspective, given their age, our risk is that they will miss games because they catch it.
“But even if they are vaccinated we have to take these precautions because they can still catch it and therefore be banned from gaming, so it’s weird to us.
“I think we need to make the right representations because we have a responsibility to the general public for helping people overcome the virus, but I also understand that young people will have individual views on how they see it and they will be influenced by what they read and see, so it’s not an easy cycle. “
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