TAMPA, Fla. — The NFL has offered thousands of free Super Bowl tickets to honor health care workers, but the nurses who operate the state run COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa said they didn't qualify for a single ticket.

"The irony is we've been here since June," registered nurse Rosheda Honorat said. "We're directly across the stadium, and consideration wasn't at least thought of for the fact that we're right there." 

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Honorat said they've tested more than 100,000 people for the coronavirus.

The site was located in the Raymond James Stadium parking lot but was moved across the street to make room for Super Bowl 55.

"For the Super Bowl to be directly across the street from our site, it was just like wow," registered nurse Monica Silvera said. "We're seeing them set up, hearing the cannons fire ... it's just kind of disappointing for us to kind of not be invited." ​

The testing site nurses said the main reason they didn't qualify for free tickets was because they haven't yet been vaccinated. The NFL program required health care workers to be fully vaccinated by last Sunday in order to be eligible.

"The reality is that the NFL is letting in over 14,000 people without vaccinations, as long as you can fork over $10,000," registered nurse Katelyn Hiracheta said. 

Last Friday, the NFL announced it was giving away 7,500 Super Bowl tickets to honor health care workers for their extraordinary service during the pandemic. 

The NFL's Vice President of Communications, Samantha Roth, told Spectrum News the main reason the league is requiring health care workers to be vaccinated is because the program is aimed at promoting the importance of getting the vaccine from a public health perspective.

"The NFL is also using this as an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices," Roth wrote in a statement. "This is not only the largest recognition of health care workers, but an unprecedented vaccination promotion."

Roth said the league office has been working with Bay area hospitals and health care facilities to make tickets available. Here's a list of the systems the NFL is working with:

  • Tampa General Hospital
  • AdventHealth
  • HCA Healthcare
  • BayCare Health System
  • Bayfront Health
  • Moffitt Cancer Center
  • John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
  • James A. Haley VA Hospital

There will also be an on-site pre-game hospitality event, TiKTok tailgate hosted by Miley Cyrus, for the vaccinated health care heroes the NFL invited.

Still, the Raymond James Stadium testing site nurses said they can't help but feel slighted. They had been emailing back and forth with the NFL about the tickets and only got a few days’ notice about the vaccine requirement.

"It is a little disappointing," said Hiracheta. "I'm one of those people that I don't really feel entitled to anything." 

The NFL will require all attendees to wear masks in the stadium. KN-95 masks will be handed out upon arrival. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 on February 7.