With training camp less than two weeks away, the Washington Football Team’s player vaccination rate for the coronavirus remains below 50 percent, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed.
The lagging vaccination rate indicates that few, if any, Washington players have received a vaccine since June, when Coach Ron Rivera said the rate of players was “nearing 50 percent” but all coaches and football employees were vaccinated.
“The big thing is we’ve got to be able to facilitate the opportunity for these guys to understand,” Rivera told reporters at the time. “There’s a lot of messaging that’s out there. They get it on Twitter, and some of it is good, some of it is bad. I’m not sure if these guys watch the news as much as I do and try to gather enough information, but we are really trying to help them because if we can get to that herd immunity we can really cut it loose and really be able to spend time with each other.”
A day earlier, Rivera had Kizzmekia S. Corbett, an immunologist and leading coronavirus vaccine researcher, speak to players and coaches via video conference to answer questions and address any concerns they had about the vaccines.
Corbett, an assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was part of a team that helped develop the Moderna vaccine.
Rivera acknowledged that getting a vaccine is a personal choice and said that any disadvantage the team faces with fewer players vaccinated will come if protocols are broken.
“We’re going to follow the rules. We’re going to do it the right way,” Rivera said. “Would we like them to get vaccinated? Yes. I think it’s important, but again, each guy has to make their own decisions for themselves and what they think is best. At that point, we live with it and we’ll live with the situation and circumstances.”
Last season, Washington had only two players land on the covid-19 reserve list during the regular season: defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, who was on injured reserve at the time, and running back Javon Leake, who was on the practice squad. Receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden said he had the virus in the offseason, and tight end Logan Thomas tested positive (but was asymptomatic) early in training camp.
After the season, the team shut down its Ashburn, Va., facility following an outbreak among coaches and staff members.
“It’s a choice,” Rivera said of vaccination in June. “We are trying to stress the fact that if we can get to herd immunity, we’ll really be ready to get out there and enjoy things, so hopefully that will happen.”
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