The UGA Athletic Association is making a strong statement about vaccinations, working with the Georgia Department of Public Health to promote the increased availability of the COVID-19 vaccines in the state and encourage those that wish to receive it to make an appointment. This past Saturday, dozens of UGA Athletic Association coaches and staff members received their first dose:
Among those that have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, either at Saturday's session or before, are J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks, head football coach Kirby Smart, men's basketball coach Tom Crean, women's basketball coach Joni Taylor, track and field head coach Petros Kyprianou and Tom Cousins Swimming and Diving head coach Jack Bauerle. More staff and coaches will be vaccinated soon, Courson said, and plans are in the works to make it available to all student-athletes that want it.
Because of the side effects, which have proven to be mostly mild — a sore arm from the shot, fever, fatigue, headaches, chills — and not unlike those of a typical flu shot, scheduling vaccine shots for teams currently competing can be challenging, Courson said.
"One of the things we're trying to do, particularly in an athletic setting, is be aware of the side effects," he said. "We're trying to time it to when they have a day off and do it the day before. The side effects are relatively light and they're not that common, but if you have them it's typically in the first 24-48 hours."
On March 1, Courson, Georgia's representative on the SEC's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, led a virtual town hall webinar for UGAAA staff, coaches, student-athletes and their families that featured four physicians with COVID-19 expertise. In a video played during the webinar, Smart talked about why he would be receiving the vaccine.
"I'll be receiving my vaccine because the most important people in my life in terms of shaping my life are my mother and father. I believe vaccination's important, they both received theirs, and I'll be receiving mine so that they can continue to enjoy their grandkids," Smart said.
Senior offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer was also featured in the video: "The vaccine's important to me for a number of reasons, the main thing being it's a step toward getting a normal world back. There are a lot of people that have been stuck in the house since last February, last March ... so it's important to me that people get to live their lives. ... It just gives people the freedom to get out of the house and to be able to see the world, because that's why we live life, to be able to experience things and to live, laugh and love."
Well said, Mr. Salyer, and well done, UGA Athletics. Make an appointment. Get vaccinated.