Former Cincinnati Bengals free safety and Emmy-winning sports broadcaster Solomon Wilcots spoke to the Times-Gazette to encourage Highland County residents, Ohioans, and people around the country to be confident in getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
“It’s a personal choice, clearly, but I think as people get more education they will be more confident that this is safe, and it’s the most effective way to protect themselves and others,” said Wilcots.
Wilcots is among more than 50 current and former NFL players lending their voices to a campaign from NFL Alumni Health, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to build trust in COVID-19 vaccinations.
Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Cincinnati Bengals Anthony Munoz and Jim Breech are among the players supporting the cause. The campaign includes Super Bowl champions as well as other Pro Football Hall of Famers.
The campaign encourages people to “get informed, address their vaccine questions with their health care providers and make the decision to get vaccinated.” The initiative will include public service announcements, a campaign website, social media posts and local events in collaboration with health care providers and public health organizations.
To encourage vaccination, the NFL Alumni Cincinnati Chapter will team up with St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the Northern Kentucky Health Department and Covington Independent Public Schools to host a mobile vaccination clinic Oct. 16 at the Holmes High School Fieldhouse at 2500 Madison Ave. in Covington, Kentucky from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event is the first in an anticipated series across the country.
Munoz, Breech, Wilcots and other former Cincinnati Bengals – including NFL Alumni Vice President David Wilkins, David Fulcher and Robert Jackson – will be on-hand to meet and greet participants and sign autographs. A player-signed NFL Alumni football will be raffled.
“The NFL Alumni mission is caring for our own, caring for kids and caring for our community — for us, that means helping Cincinnati, the states of Ohio and Kentucky, and ‘Who Dey’ Nation rally together as a team to end the pandemic,” said Breech. “We hope that by speaking out, we might inspire people, who may have concerns about vaccination, to talk to their doctor and make an informed decision to protect themselves, their families and our community.”
According to the CDC, just over 54 percent of Ohio’s vaccine-eligible populations have been fully vaccinated, and the state has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations with the Delta variant of the virus being responsible for nearly all of those new cases.
Wilcots said he empathizes with people who are hesitant to get the vaccine. “First of all, we understand that people have a lot of concern for a lot of different reasons, but we all just want to encourage them to talk with their doctors and listen to the information that’s out there so they get information that’s going to allow them to make an informed decision,” he said.
Wilcots said, like many athletes, he has been mindful of his health since he was a teenager. “We’ve been in tune to using science to have better health care for ourselves, and we work with doctors and trust the science and the medical community,” he said. “Therefore, we’ve been able to leverage that knowledge and information to change the trajectory of our lives whether it’s an athletic scholarship or being drafted by an NFL team and having a long career, so I’d like to think that we have some credibility in this space — clearly nothing more than the doctors would have — but we’ve been invested in our overall health for a long time, and I think it’s something the general population can trust.”
Wilcots recommended that people visit www.nflalumnihealth.org/covid-19 for more information.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.