The number of NFL players who have had at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine has reached the 80% threshold, NFL medical director Dr. Allen Sills said Friday.
Nearly all of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 team employees have been vaccinated, Sills said.
9 teams at 90% vaccination
Nine teams have 90% of players in the process of being fully vaccinated, meaning they've had at least one shot of the two-shot process. Five teams have less than 70% in that category, though Sills said he's optimistic about those numbers increasing as training camps open this month.
“I think we are off to an excellent start,” Sills said on a call with reporters, via the Associated Press. “Those numbers are much higher than what we're seeing in society as a whole. There has been a lot of movement in that area. As you see players coming to training camp, you will see more players beginning that process [of vaccination].”
Approximately 68.6 percent of people aged 18 and older have received at least one shot as of Friday morning in the United States, per The New York Times.
Sills said those numbers will continue to rise each day. He cited strong advocates inside teams and educational materials as a key reason the figures are so high.
"What matters is that individuals have the most accurate information. Let’s not get information from Instagram or Facebook posts. Let’s try to hear from the most reputable professionals," Sills said. "You don’t shout anyone into belief here — there have to be thoughtful conversations. What we can do is provide the facts and make sure the entirety of the medical facts are presented."
The WNBA announced at the end of June that 99 percent of its players were fully vaccinated. MLB, another major league in full swing this summer, said in June that two-thirds of its teams were at the 85 percent vaccination threshold most leagues are trying to reach.
NFL: Forfeits could occur for COVID-19 outbreaks
The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo Thursday alerting teams that COVID-19 outbreaks among or caused by unvaccinated players could force a team into harsh consequences. Those include forfeits, financial losses and potential further discipline.
That hardline stance drew blowback from players, including the Arizona Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins. In a tweet that was quickly deleted, he said "being put in a position to hurt my team because I don't want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the NFL." Other players also took to social to voice their disapproval of the decision.
And on Friday, ESPN reported that Rick Dennison would no longer be on the Minnesota Vikings' coaching staff after refusing to be vaccinated. Tier 1 staff are required to be vaccinated, or else lose field access and direct contact to players.
Despite those loud outcries, it seems most NFL players are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine with the NFL season rapidly approaching. Training camps begin in full around the country next week.
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