Rugby and Wheelchair Rugby athletes shared their opinion on getting the COVID-19 vaccine with uInterview prior to the Tokyo Olympics.

Olympic rugby athlete, Naya Tapper revealed that she initially did not want to get the vaccine, but decided it was best to get it for everyone’s safety, including her own.

“So I actually made my vaccine appointment yesterday, so I’ll be getting that in a week,” she said. “In the beginning, I wasn’t [going to] get it, but going into the Olympics and thinking about other people’s safety including myself, I think it’s important to do so.”

Paralympic rugby athlete, Joe Delagrave agreed with Tapper. He explained that he wants to do everything he can to test negative in the routine COVID-19 tests at the Paralympic Games and that by getting vaccinated, his chances of testing negative are higher.

“I have my appointment for the shot as well,” he said. “And I think the same thing, what Naya was saying is that going to a different country and being as safe as possible. The other thing too is, we’ll be tested there as well, so I just want to make sure I’m doing everything in my ability to test negative so I can go out and play on the court. We spent way too long training for this and postponed and so I think it’s just important to do for everyone’s safety besides myself as well, just to be as safe as possible with other people in the community.”

“I’m [going to] get tested, I got my paperwork today, actually,” said one-time Olympian and rugby player, Carlin Isles. “So I think the safety for myself and others and plus I don’t want them to tell me I can’t play after all these years of hard work, so I’m definitely going to get that test so my higher percentage of getting COVID is very low.”

“I think it’s just safe to say that we are going to end up getting tested, getting the vaccine rather, just because of those reasons, for safety reasons and going to another country and also just all the hard work that we’ve put in over these last 10, 12 months,” said Perry Baker, also a one-time Olympian rugby athlete. “We don’t want to get there and be like ‘We can’t play because we haven’t been vaccinated,’ or whatnot, whatever the case may be, so yes, I’ll be getting vaccinated.”

The athletes revealed that there were some concerns about getting the vaccine, especially because of the potential side effects.

Tapper said she scheduled her appointment on a day where she didn’t have to train the next day.

“I think when the pandemic was in the heat of the start, my team had a lot of discussions about whether we were going to get the vaccine or not,” said Tapper. “For me, it came down to, if I really needed it, if my immune system was strong enough to withhold on its own. I ended up actually getting [COVID] so after that, I was like, ‘Okay, well I definitely don’t want that to happen when I’m at the Olympics, so I’m definitely [going to] get [the vaccine]. Just in terms of how I’m scheduling my appointment, a couple of my teammates have already been vaccinated and have talked a little bit about the side effects of just feeling kind of groggy for the next 24 hours, or their arm being in pain, so just kind of basing my appointment on times where I know I won’t have training the next day just in case I don’t feel too well for the next couple of days.”

Delagrave said that he believes that it’s important that everyone feels heard and that other’s decisions should be respected.

“I think it’s … making sure that everyone on our team is a leader,” Delagrave added. “I want to make sure that everyone on our team feels love and grace with their decision and that they have a decision with that still. It’s a tough spot because it’s very public, I feel like, with getting the shot … so just making sure everyone feels heard, has the information. There’s some love and grace with that, instead of, like, ‘You’re getting it, or else,’ type of thing. I think there’s a need for that as well, but I think pretty much everyone on our team is [going to] be getting it.”

Baker felt apprehensive about getting the vaccine, but after having a team meeting, he said he had a better understanding of it and felt more comfortable with getting it.

“I mean I have my doubts. I just feel like I need to have a better understanding of what was going on and everything with getting a vaccine,” said Baker. “At the end of the day, it’s just about being safe and being healthy and knowing what’s [going to] partake of it with everything being said for is getting sick from taking a shot or getting sick on the second shot, which I have a better understanding from yesterday. We had a team meeting about it and it’s basically just waking your immune system up to know how to deal with [COVID] once you get the shot, so it’s all good when it comes to training.”

Isles said he was going to get the vaccine to keep his teammates safe because a single person from the team getting infected could ruin their chance to participate in the Olympic Games.

“For me personally, I definitely had doubts getting a shot,” said Isles “I feel like I deal with things where if they come and I got faith, so, you know, I survived this this whole time and I definitely wasn’t always the safest going out in public and stuff like that, but I still stay strong. I’m [going to] get the shot … just for the whole purpose of my teammates because if one person just gets COVID, then it could mess up our team and everybody might not be able to participate. I’m a little worried about the side effects, but I’ll deal with it when it comes.”

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