As NFL’s regular season begins, more than 93% of players are fully or partially vaccinated

USA Today

September 10, 2021

The number of NFL players who are vaccinated is at 93.5 percent as of Friday, and league officials said they are optimistic that number will continue to rise.

About half of the players who were not vaccinated when they arrived at training camp have since received at least one shot, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Friday.

“We are continuing to see literally people on a daily basis beginning the vaccination process,” Sills said. “It actually has moved substantially since it started.”

NFL officials were curious if the numbers would change after rosters were reduced to the regular-season, 53-man limit, but they did not, said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president overseeing player health and safety. Just under 93 percent of players were vaccinated as of Aug. 26, five days before roster cuts.

“The cutdowns didn’t have any reflection on it,” Miller said.

The number reflects players who are fully vaccinated as well as those who have gotten at least one shot. The vaccination rate for coaches and staff, is even higher, at 99-plus percent.

The NFL required all Tier 1 and 2 employees to be vaccinated. While there isn’t a mandate for players, the COVID protocols are structured to give significant advantages to those who are vaccinated. Players who are vaccinated can eat together, for example, and don’t have to immediately isolate if they are determined to be a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

Unvaccinated players also must undergo daily testing, while vaccinated players are tested weekly.

“The aggregate vaccination rate is somewhere in the mid- to high 90 percentile, and what that means for those folks, in that community … maybe this is a little bit of a harbinger for what the world could look like,” Miller said.

The NFL has had some cases of breakthrough infections, but Sills said even those show the power of the vaccines. Those who’ve been vaccinated were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms for a shorter period of time, Sills said.

“If we can ultimately convert COVID into a seasonal, respiratory illness, that’s where the pandemic ends,” Sills said.

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