Doctors visit Mariners, provide vaccine info

April 18th, 2021

SEATTLE -- When the Mariners returned from their eight-day road trip on Thursday night, they re-entered Washington state eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. On Saturday, the club continued its active efforts in educating players and staff on the matter with a visit from Dr. Vin Gupta and Dr. Santiago Neme. 

Gupta is a Seattle-based health policy expert who has worked for the United States Centers for Disease Control, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the World Health Organization and the Pentagon’s Center for Global Health Engagement. He’s also a medical analyst for NBC News, and since the beginning of the pandemic he’s served as the Chief Medical Officer for Amazon and its COVID-19 response.

Neme is the vice president and chief medical officer at Northwest Hospital and Medical Center, a branch of University of Washington Medicine. He specializes in infection control and healthcare administration. He’s also been a clinical assistant professor at the UW School of Medicine since 2017.

 "I thought Dr. Gupta today was fantastic," said manager Scott Servais. "Obviously, these guys, they know their stuff. The numbers and the data, they're the true doctors. The science, the numbers don't lie, the value of getting that vaccine. But more importantly, when you're talking to young people, you've got to connect with them. And I thought he did an outstanding job with the staff.

“I thought his answers to things were put in a way that players could clearly understand, and if you're in that room, listening to him and knowing his experience and the information he has about the virus and what it has done and where it's currently at, I think is the big thing. Not just here in Washington, but throughout the country and the world.

“[It was] pretty enlightening for our guys and I don't know how you come out of that meeting and not think, ‘Wow, that guy, he knows his stuff, and it's probably somebody I can trust and listen to.’ So, I thought it was very impactful.”

All persons age 16 and older became eligible to receive the vaccine in Washington state on Thursday, when the Mariners were in the midst of a doubleheader sweep in Baltimore.

Servais said Friday that the most ideal scenario for team personnel to receive vaccines would be on the day of a day game followed by an off-day, in order to account for possible side effects. The Mariners have such a situation coming up on Tuesday, with a matinee against the Dodgers and an off-day Wednesday before a four-game series in Boston beginning Thursday.

Clubs were informed on March 29 that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to relax certain health and safety protocols contained in the 2021 Operations Manual for fully vaccinated Tier 1 individuals and for clubs where 85 percent of their Tier 1 individuals are fully vaccinated. As part of that memo, players and staff have been strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.

“We’ve got some work to do to get to the 85 percent threshold,” Servais said. “And it's something that's it's really important. It does change your life, [with] our lifestyle and how we travel and what we do in the clubhouse and in the dugout and things like that throughout the course of the game. Hopefully we can get there.

“It is an individual decision, and I certainly need to respect that. I have my personal views and that's fine. We all have a right to have personal opinions on things. I think what you're trying to do is just educate young people to [help] them to make good choices. And that's all we're trying to do here is get as much information in front of people. … I trust our guys will make good decisions and hopefully we can get to the 85 percent mark.”