He is one of Germany’s superstar soccer players, a model who has supported charities that help people struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
But in recent days, Joshua Kimmich’s comments on the safety of vaccinations against Covid-19 have threatened to take the shine off his image.
Over the weekend, the 26-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder confirmed he had not yet received a vaccine due to concerns about long-term studies.
“I am obviously aware of my responsibility,” Kimmich told Sky Sports after a match on Saturday.
“I follow all the hygiene measures and do the test every two or three days. Everyone should make the decision for themselves.”
However, Kimmich insisted he was not a “Covid denier or an anti-vaccine”.
“There is a very good chance that they will still vaccinate me,” he said. “It’s just that I still have some concerns.”
These concerns have been addressed by prominent German health experts and scientists who have criticized Kimmich for not setting a good example and misunderstanding how vaccines work.
They say decades of research show long-term health problems are highly unlikely after receiving a vaccination of any kind. That said, a leading medical ethics expert suggested that Kimmich had been a victim of Covid misinformation online.
With coronavirus infections rising and vaccine uptake slowing, it is feared that Kimmich’s comments may encourage vaccine hesitation in Germany.
‘That’s not how it works’
Since Covid vaccines are relatively new, scientists haven’t had time to study them for a long time, but that doesn’t mean they’re unsafe.
Covid shots have been administered to millions of people, as well as being extensively tested in clinical trials.
That’s why experts point out that the benefits of Covid vaccination outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.
While Covid hits will continue to be monitored for safety by regulators, the likelihood of causing serious short- or long-term side effects is considered low.
Carsten Watzl, a professor of immunology at the Technical University of Dortmund, said the belief that vaccines can have long-term side effects is a common “misconception”.
“Say: I got vaccinated and maybe next year I’ll have some serious side effects. That’s not how it works”, Mr. Watzl told the public broadcaster ARD. “The side effects of a vaccine always appear immediately after vaccination, within a few weeks.”
Health authorities around the world have come to the same conclusion. For instance, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say “Serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem following any vaccination are extremely unlikely.”
“Millions of people have received Covid-19 vaccines and no long-term side effects have been detected,” says the CDC.
More information on Covid-19 vaccines:
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The head of the German expert group on the use of vaccines, Thomas Mertens, said that numerous studies have shown that long-term side effects “do not exist or are extremely rare”.
“Joshua Kimmich is certainly a recognized expert on football issues, but not a vaccination expert,” said Mertens.
Dr Alena Buyx, chairman of the German Ethics Council – a government advisory board – suggested that Kimmich “was falsely informed and badly advised.”
There are still many people “who have questions or who have heard something wrong, as was perhaps the case with Joshua Kimmich”, Dr. Alena Buyx told Sky Sport. “You have to show these people sources they can trust.”
Competing against vaccine hesitation
While Kimmich’s comments have become a major talking point in Germany, his reluctance to the vaccine is far from unique in the sports world.
World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic is a prime example.
Last year, Djokovic said he was “against vaccination” ahead of a controversial tour to Serbia and Croatia. The Serbian tennis star and three other players then tested positive for the virus.
He later insisted that his comments on vaccinations were taken out of context by the media. “My problem here with vaccines is if someone is forcing me to put something in my body. Which I don’t want,” he said.
Concerns have been raised about hesitation and skepticism about vaccines in other sports around the world, from athletics to basketball.
In the English Premier League the unease was particularly acute. As of last week, only 68% of players were fully vaccinated against Covid, the league said.
It’s far below the figures of other countries like Germany and Italy, whose top soccer leagues say over 90% of their players are fully vaccinated.
- Why do some footballers hesitate to get vaccinated?
Vaccinations are not mandatory for Premier League players, nor for those of the German top flight, the Bundesliga. But given Kimmich’s poster boy status, who recently captained the German national team, his stance on vaccination frustrated his admirers as well.
Last year, Kimmich co-founded the We kick Corona initiative by donating money to support vaccination campaigns and charity projects.
Despite this, Kimmich is one of five unvaccinated Bayern Munich players, Bild newspaper reported.
“He will make the right decision”
Kimmich’s club urged its players and staff to get punched, while senior executives spoke out on the matter.
Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn said the club could only recommend vaccinations to players and had done so through several campaigns. Even so, he said the club respects players who have “a different opinion”.
Bayern president Herbert Hainen echoed these views.
“FC Bayern supports the vaccination campaign,” he said. “At the end of the day there is no mandatory vaccination with us. It is the decision of each individual and you have to accept it.”
Former club chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he knows Kimmich is an “extremely responsible person” who is likely to “make the right decision at some point”.
Kimmich made his skepticism known at a time when the rise in coronavirus infections is raising the prospect of a return to tighter restrictions in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
On Monday, Germany reported 6,573 new infections and 17 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the vaccination rate per 100 people continues to decline after the June peak. About 65% of the German population has been fully vaccinated.
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This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source