Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez understands the power of his stardom and vibrant personality.
So Báez knows people will follow his lead, especially in his native Puerto Rico and Jacksonville, Fla., where he moved with his family as a young teen. That’s why Báez has teamed up with Walgreens’ “This is Our Shot” campaign to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and try to reach hard-hit communities.
Walgreens will be releasing the content featuring Báez in English and Spanish in the coming weeks. A commercial aired with musician John Legend last month to promote the benefits of being vaccinated.
“The people that maybe didn’t believe in it, I think they will,” Báez told the Tribune Monday. “And that’s what it’s all about. We’re trying to get more people into it and to get the vaccine to at least feel safe.
“We want to be safe out there. We obviously want to end this pandemic. The smart thing to do right now is to get vaccinated.”
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Báez is one of only a few Cubs players to publicly share he has received the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as Kris Bryant and Adbert Alzolay.
It wasn’t a hard decision to take the vaccine, Báez said, because he has two young sons, Adrián, who turns three next month, and six-month-old Aiden. Báez inherently spends time around a lot of people because of what his job entails. Deciding to be vaccinated was a collective decision with his wife, Irmarie, who shared in an Instagram story this past week that she got her second shot.
It’s been hard not being able to leave his house much, Báez said, but now that he is fully vaccinated, his close friends and nephews will be able to visit. Those factors all played a role in his vaccine decision.
“It was the smartest thing and the safest thing that we could do for our family and closest friends,” Báez said.
Even though he is vaccinated, Báez still wears his mask and maintains distance from certain people because he knows everyone hasn’t been vaccinated or they might be skeptical about getting it.
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As Báez takes a public role in advocating for people to take the vaccine, the Cubs are seemingly stuck in limbo, unable to reach the 85% vaccination threshold among Tier 1 personnel to loosen the league’s protocols. Cubs manager David Ross and Bryant both sounded pessimistic Friday that the team will hit that mark. Báez said the goal is still for the Cubs to get to the rate while acknowledging it’s a personal choice.
“It’s optional, whoever thinks that they should get it, it’s not obligatory, but I believe in it,” Báez said. “I feel safe, I still wear my mask, but I think that’s smart. The smart thing to do is to take it.”
Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney lauded Báez for stepping forward and being willing to participate in the PSA.
“It’s really just a continuation of the same effort, which is throw every bit of our organization’s resources toward beating the virus and supporting our community and it’ll help the outcome,” Kenney told the Tribune Friday. “Javy getting involved is just awesome and we are massively appreciative of him.”