Once hesitant, Chiefs star Travis Kelce now urges COVID-19 vaccine for all

Chiefs tight end no longer hesitant about shot

Sam McDowell
The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) once was hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine, but now has joined a campaign urging everyone to get their shots.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the NFL has incentivized players to get the COVID-19 vaccine — loosening protocols only for those who oblige — Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu recently sat with his teammates for a meal and thought of its impact from a football standpoint.

Only those who have been vaccinated will be allowed to eat with teammates, or unmask inside the facility or skip daily testing. Those qualifications have an effect on a team's bond, Mathieu explained, and so he's hopeful Chiefs players follow through.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has widened that movement.

Kelce has joined Walgreens for its "This is Our Shot" campaign to encourage people — everyone — to get the vaccine through the Walgreens website, phone app or by calling the headquarters.

"It's that point in the year where everything's starting to open back up and getting around family, being at an event, getting back to our normal way of life," Kelce said. "You know, it's right there. The vaccine makes it easier and makes it safe for everybody, so I just want to encourage everybody to get the vaccine."

Kelce comes as somewhat of an ideal spokesperson for those who have yet to receive the vaccine. Not simply because of his prominence.

He was originally hesitant to get vaccinated, and then after talking with family, he spent time educating himself.

"I had some things kind of pointing me in that direction — it made it easier to see family, everybody," Kelce said. "I love being around family, (so) it was just kind of a family decision that if everybody got the vaccine, we would be able to be around each other safely and comfortably. So that was the biggest thing — it was huge for family.

"I was definitely hesitant, but it's only here to help us, and I'm here to just spread the word to try and encourage everybody to get it."

The league has provided teams with material on the vaccine's effectiveness and safeness. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said his team's approach has been to pass that information on to players as a means of education.

The NFL and NFL Players Association have not released figures on what percentage of players have been vaccinated on each team. Reid said the Chiefs ranked among the best in terms of highest percentages.

Per a memo the league sent to teams and players, those who have been vaccinated will no longer be subject to daily testing, while unvaccinated players will still need to wear masks and maintain social distancing at the facilities and also incur restrictions outside the facilities.

"I think what last year taught us was we were very fortunate to be able to get out and about and go to work and have these daily lives that we were taking for granted — at least I know I did," Kelce said. "I was just fortunate to be able to still go to work, even if I was testing every single day for six months straight (or) sitting in Kansas City, not really being able to go anywhere.

"I'm just glad that everything's going to get back to normal here. I think this year is going to be absolutely nuts. I can already feel everybody getting back out in the community and the electricity the city's bringing. Just being able to get back around each other, and I think this vaccine is only going to help make everybody safer and more comfortable to get back to daily life."