RICHMOND, Va. -- As fans were welcomed back to the Washington Football team's training camp Wednesday morning, health leaders used it as an opportunity to get more Virginians vaccinated.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has partnered with the football team to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who comes out to the camp.
"We were hoping through VDH to have, you know, just an opportunity for anyone who has been reluctant to get vaccinated, or who has questions about the process, we will have people on-site who can answer those questions," explained VDH Chief of Staff Jeff Stover.
Fans also have the opportunity to get tested for COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibodies right outside of the entrance to the field.
Damon said training camp is their largest community outreach event so far. Over the next three days, he’s hoping to help Virginians understand all three COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
“The hardest part is educating everyone," he noted. "The reality is you’ve got to trust in the health department that they know what they are doing. The research has been done, and this is really going to help us beat the pandemic at the end of the day."
Safety precautions are in place during training camp. Fans must maintain a social distance of at least 20 feet from players, and direct autographs are not allowed.
But not everyone is complaining about these new guidelines.
“I’m kind of glad they still have some restrictions," said Derrick Woodson of Henrico. "You know, you still have to be safe. It’s a lot of stuff, and people aren’t getting vaccinated."
Most of all, Woodson and others are just happy to be able to see their favorite players in person in Richmond for the first time since 2019.
"We support them," Woodson explained. "We are glad to have them back. They were in Ashburn last year, so to have them back in the city just to get the buzz, even the local businesses here, just to get things going right now, it’s awesome."
Some fans hope community members will take this chance to get a shot to protect themselves and the players.
"I’ve already been vaccinated, but I think everyone who could get it should," said Maggie Harrell, who traveled from North Carolina for the training camp. "Coach Rivera is really strong about it, and, with his cancer battle, I think it would be great for anyone who could get it."
VDH also has a “safety zone” tent set up by the field, and numerous hand washing stations throughout the facility.
Anyone who gets vaccinated at training camp will have the chance to win free tickets to the first game against the Los Angeles Chargers, as well as parking passes and a signed football.