Vaccinated Tampa Bay health care workers receive free Super Bowl tickets

Tampa and the NFL team up to give back to health care workers


Photo N. Oben

A Super Bowl LV ad projected onto a building in Downtown Tampa, as seen from the Super Bowl Experience.

Amelia Foster, Print Managing Editor

On Feb. 7, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make history by being the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium, with thousands of vaccinated health care workers from the community supporting from the stands. The NFL invited 7500 health care workers who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the game, with the majority of tickets being sent to Tampa Bay and Central Florida hospitals.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor first expressed public support for inviting health care workers to the game in Jan. In addition to masks being required for all Super Bowl-related activities—including, but not limited to, the game itself, events in downtown Tampa and the Super Bowl Experience—precautions are in-place to prevent the game from being a super spreader event. Raymond James Stadium, which normally seats up to 75,000 people, has been limited to only 22,000 attendees for the Super Bowl, including the health care workers.

“[I] heard about the [Super Bowl ticket] lottery through TGH and email,” Lacey Trevisani, a Tampa General Hospital employee, said. “I decided to enter because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to a Super Bowl.”

Trevisani is a speech pathologist at Tampa General Hospital who received the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 15 and Jan 15. She’s an avid fan of Tampa’s sports, primarily theTampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and both she and her mother, who is also a Tampa General Hospital employee, won tickets to the Super Bowl through Tampa General Hospital’s lottery.

“This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I couldn’t be more grateful for,” Trevisani said.

The pandemic has been harsh on Tampa Bay hospitals. As provided by an employee the BayCare Health System, a system that connects people to 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay and Central Florida area, there were 480 COVID-19 patients admitted in-patient and 82 to the ICU as of Jan 28. To some health care workers the invitation is appreciated; to others, it is an empty gesture.

“Health care workers have been treated terribly. This whole ‘hero’s’ mindset is just a way to glorify the abuse we’ve been facing so the government/public/health care system doesn’t actually have to do anything to remedy the situation,” Lydie Harris said. Harris works at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the medical ICU, which is exclusive to COVID-19 patients.

Phase One of vaccine distribution prioritizes health care workers, those over 65 and residents and staff at long-term care facilities. As of Feb. 3, a total of 56,946 Hillsborough County residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, with 22,840 having also received their second.

“I think the vaccine situation is deplorable. Specifically in Florida, our governor is doing nothing to organize roll out or make sure there are systems in place to actually get vaccines to people,” Harris said. “The current problem isn’t supply, it’s the lack of distribution.”

In addition to health care workers from the Tampa Bay region, each NFL club will be able to select health care workers from their community and send them to Tampa for the game in an all-expense-paid trip. All workers must have received their second dose of the vaccine by Feb. 7 to be eligible to attend the game, although individual hospitals can set their own deadlines.