CINCINNATI — The Cardinals, among the first major-league teams to gain widespread access to a vaccination for the coronavirus, were able to reach the necessary threshold that Major League Baseball will consider loosening their protocols later in April, a team said.
Manager Mike Shildt, on the eve of opening day, said the Cardinals' traveling party had more than 85% of its members receive the vaccine.
The team had access to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Monday night when they arrived in Cincinnati. The Cardinals coordinated with their medical partner Mercy in Missouri to make it possible, and on Monday the state of Ohio opened up eligibility to the vaccine for all adults 16 and older.
Players and staff considered Tier 1 were offered the opportunity to receive the vaccine. The team cannot mandate the jab.
On Monday, Major League Baseball and the players' union sent teams a memo that outlined how if teams were able to get 85% of their Tier 1 personnel to receive the vaccine the protocols for that team could be loosened after two weeks. The relaxing of rules would allow teams to do things that sit together on the charter planes, gather in groups in the clubhouse, and have fewer areas where a mask mandate would be in place.
"Gosh, what a tough thing — and we have a number we met to create some freedoms," Shildt said. "Excited for the fact that we have the ability to play, but also make sure that everybody feels like they had their medical, individual choices and there's no judgment to it.
"We did reach it."