As teams begin to report to NFL training camp this weekend, vaccination rates will definitely be a hot topic. Teams who have at last 85% of their players vaccinated will be able to start lifting COVID-19 protocols. Any player, whether their team has hit the 85% threshold or not, who has not received a COVID-19 vaccination will still need to adhere to safety protocols which includes wearing a mask.
While vaccination status continues to be a controversial topic for many around the country, it's no different in the NFL. Just last month, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley stated that he will not be taking the vaccine and doesn't believe he should have to follow safety protocols.
Just one example of how what happens off the field is just as much of a headline as what happens on the field.
Which teams have the highest vaccination rates?
There are 13 out of 32 teams in the NFL that have reached the 85% threshold. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos have reportedly surpassed the 85% mark, with the Steelers having nearly every player on the team vaccinated.
Which teams have the lowest vaccination rates?
There are two teams in the NFL that have vaccination rates below 50%: the Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Football Team. For those two teams, if that percentage stays below the 85% rate, which is likely, considering that camp opens within days, health and safety protocols that were in place all of last season will stay that way.
Team meetings and practices will still be under strict guidelines and players will not be allowed to socialize with each other freely. Unvaccinated players will also need to be tested daily, unlike players who have been vaccinated, who will be tested less frequently.
There isn't a complete rate for each team as of this moment, just which teams have reached the 85% and which team are way below that rate. NFL teams that are close to reaching the compliance rate may in fact reach the threshold by the time camp starts, depending on when players become fully vaccinated.
The NFL has already announced that they will not cancel games due to COVID-19 in the upcoming 2021 season. Last year, several games were rearranged due to the need to adhere to health and safety protocols, as well as several positive test results and contact tracing.
The Pittsburgh Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens on a Wednesday afternoon after their Thanksgiving night matchup was canceled. This then sent the team into a tailspin, which they seem ready to avoid this season.
Other teams don't seem to be taking into consideration the types of inconveniences they will be subject to this season if their vaccination rates don't rise. The numbers are definitely one to keep an eye on.