Alabama turns to Nick Saban as vaccine leader

Alabama turns to Nick Saban as vaccine leader
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The Alabama Department of Public Health is turning to Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban to help lead the charge to encourage citizens in Alabama to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is very pleased that Coach Nick Saban and other notable sports figures, including Charles Barkley, are encouraging Alabamians to take COVID-19 vaccine. Alabamians have great respect for the opinions of these important leaders in the world of sports," a spokesperson for the state's health department told The Hill.

Saban will be featured in a video along with other sports coaches in the state to talk about reopening sports stadiums as motivation for people to get their vaccines, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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“College football fans and players both want full stadiums this fall,” Saban reportedly says in the video. “Let’s make sure we can safely make this happen by getting vaccinated. Please get your COVID-19 vaccine. We want Bryant-Denny Stadium loud again this coming season — and Roll Tide!” 

Saban is one of the most respected and well-known figures in the state.

“He is the most recognizable and influential individual in the state of Alabama, regardless of age, race or whatever qualification you want to use,” said Gene Hallman, the president of the sports event management company Bruno Event Team, which is in charge of the campaign. “The biggest influence in the state is Nick Saban. Even if you’re an Auburn fan.”

Alabama is struggling to use all their coronavirus vaccine doses as many in the state are hesitant about getting it.

"All Alabamians want to return to our normal lives, which includes celebrating our state's love of football, basketball, and other sporting events like we have in the past," the health department's spokesperson said.

-Updated 4:10 p.m.