Since it has become public information that Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich is not yet vaccinated against the novel coronavirus along with four other Bayern players, it has not gone down well in Munich. As a co-creator of the “We Kick Corona” campaign with fellow midfielder Leon Goretzka that’s raised a great deal of money for charitable and social institutions that were greatly effected by the pandemic, his name, in a way, is synonymous with public health guidelines in Germany. While it is still not yet required footballers be fully vaccinated against the virus, the majority of players in the Bundesliga have been.
Speaking with Suddeutsche Zeitung, former Bayern captain Philipp Lahm commented on Kimmich’s decision not to get vaccinated yet and said that if were still in the dressing room alongside Kimmich, he would try to convince him to get the shot(s). “For me it would have been clearly the task to talk to him, to convince him,” Lahm said (Sport1). Kimmich had said he’s not yet been vaccinated because there are not enough long term studies available on the current shots that are available and he wanted to wait until said studies come out. “I have personal concerns for myself about the long-term consequences. But I take my responsibility seriously and have myself tested regularly,” Kimmich had explained.
Of course, he has his own free will and choice to make, but Lahm reinforced the sentiment that, as a professional footballer, you have a “role model function” and are a “multiplier” in terms of doing the right thing in the public sphere. “You can have that opinion,” Lahm said, but also questioned, “how does he come to this opinion?”
Questions and concerns regarding the vaccines in the United States, United Kingdom and European Union have risen en masse with the amount of misinformation that's circulated on both ends of the spectrum for quite some time now. For footballers, the more time that’s passed between the vaccines becoming available to them and now, the susceptibility to receive misinformation has heightened, leading to more skepticism. For example, Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League had their players and staff get vaccinated pretty quickly after they became available for players in the U.K, so there was less time for potential misinformation to spread and get exposed to the players. They still had a decision not to get vaccinated, but none of them chose that route.
“I read a lot, and that’s where I get information. And I haven’t read so many who have said: vaccination is bad,” Lahm reiterated. This sentiment was echoed by Social Democratic Party of Germany health expert Karl Lauterbach. “Personally, I assumed he was vaccinated. It’s not good that it isn’t. If he says he’s waiting, that’s difficult. Vaccination from Kimmich is valuable, because it has an enormous symbolic effect for young people who represent an epidemiological problem,” he said.