Jed Hoyer not happy about Cubs' vaccination rates


Cubs president Jed Hoyer called the team’s lagging vaccination rates “disappointing” and refuted veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta’s assertion that having 85-percent of the team and staff vaccinated is not a competitive advantage.

“I think we've worked hard to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Hoyer, who added he would not consider trading players based on their vaccine decisions. “We've worked hard to try to convince or educate the people that have been reluctant. 

“I think we're at a place right now, candidly, where — I'm not going to give up hope that we can get there — but my level of optimism is waning.”

Hoyer said he was disappointed more players weren’t taking the advice of team doctors and was adamant the herd-immunity threshold of 85-percent vaccinations is a competitive advantage for teams.

The Cubs are among the 14 teams that continue to fall short of the 85-percent threshold MLB requires among “Tier 1” personnel to ease safety protocols. 

Twelve clubs have reached that threshold of fully vaccinated personnel. Four more have enough personnel that have received their final doses to be considered 85-percent fully vaccinated within the next week, MLB and the MLBPA said last Friday.

Tier 1 Includes players, coaches and immediate support staff.

Relaxed protocols include easing mask requirements and the use of contact tracing devices, and exemptions to quarantine policies for vaccinated players exposed to COVID-19, unless they exhibit symptoms.

“By not getting 85 percent, we're missing that,” Hoyer said. “So, it’s disappointing. I can't say it any other way.”

Hoyer agreed with Padres manager Jayce Tingler, who last week said there is a “clear competitive advantage” to reaching the threshold.

“There's no denying the fact that Jayce Tingler is right in that case,” said Hoyer, whose point was underscored by the Nationals, in town this week, putting two players on the COVID-19 injured list Wednesday.

Hoyer spoke on the day the Cubs put yet another player, Jason Heyward, on the IL for a hamstring injury as the Cubs continue to deal with a slew of early-season injuries.

Arrieta said last week he didn’t think hitting the threshold was a competitive advantage, citing vaccinated members of the Yankees recently testing positive as evidence.

Hoyer was asked specifically about Arrieta’s comment.

“I don’t want to directly refute guys,” Hoyer said. “It is a competitive advantage to be at 85 percent.”

The Cubs don’t appear to have increased their vaccination numbers since manager David Ross said several weeks ago the team was “close to 80” percent vaccinated.

Kris Bryant said being vaccinated has given him “peace of mind,” and teammate Javy Báez publicly recommended getting the shot after he was vaccinated. Other vaccinated Cubs include Ross, Hoyer and pitcher Adbert Alzolay.

Hoyer said a lot of Cubs players have been vaccinated but the team isn't one player away from hitting the threshold. He expressed disappointment they will face restrictions and anxieties going forward.

The Cubs went through a COVID scare last month, when coaches Craig Driver and Chris Young tested positive, multiple players went on the COVID-19 IL and Kyle Hendricks was scratched from a start.

“That’s a pretty horrible feeling and a pretty helpless feeling,” Hoyer said. “The fact that we aren't able to eliminate that is disappointing. 

“Injuries can be avoidable. But sometimes they're not and your season can get derailed when you have injuries, and that's part of this job. 

“But I feel like this is one that can be avoided and we're not able to avoid it in some ways.”

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