Cooperstown Vaccine Mandate Dashes Dream of Sunnyvale Little League Team

The FDA hasn’t approved the vaccine for use in anyone under 16 yet

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s a dream for thousands of kids around the country to play at the Little League Baseball Tournament in New York and see the hall of fame.

The Kali 365 Baseball Little League team is made up with 12-year-olds who want to play like the pros.

The Sunnyvale-based team have worked years toward this. A summer trip to Cooperstown, New York for a weeklong camp and tournament.

"To these kids, it’s pretty much like the World Series,” said Pete Hernandez, owner and coach of the Kali 365 Baseball team.

Hernandez added that teams book a year out and put down deposits for a spot.

“It’s out in Cooperstown, New York. Right next to the hall of fame," he added. "About 102 teams go out there and the kids get an opportunity to play teams from all over the country."

But they were just thrown a major curveball. Officials at the Cooperstown Dreams Park said that all children 12 and up must have a COVID-19 vaccine to participate.

But there’s one problem, the FDA hasn’t approved the vaccine for use in anyone under 16 yet. This announcement has dashed the dreams of players like Dominick Chavarria.

“They’re asking us to get a vaccine even though there’s not a vaccine available to us,” he said. “It’s just unfair because I was really looking forward to the tournament and we’ve been working really hard.”

There’s no set date on when the FDA could approve the vaccine for that age group. The tournament is offering refunds, but teams must decide by Monday if they want to receive those refunds.

“Just really a letdown,” said Amanda Chavarria, Dominick’s mom. “You’re asking us to do something we can’t comply with right now.”

Cooperstown Dreams Park didn’t return our request for comment. But their press release states in part, “Our plan is the only responsible course of action at this time to prevent the possibility of a camp shutdown and displacement of families due to COVID-19.”

“It’s unfair to the players. We just want to go out and have fun and we’re not going to be able to do that,” said Dominick Chavarria.

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