WASHINGTON - With training camp less than two weeks away, the Washington Football Team has one of the lowest player vaccination rates for the coronavirus.
It remains below 50 percent along with the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Chargers out of the 32 NFL teams.
It’s not just NFL players, but even Olympic athletes are speaking out that they are willing to take the risk of not being vaccinated.
A local sports agent tells FOX 5 that these types of conversations with players and he says many of them don’t want to risk any side effects that could put them out of training.
"There’s a shared apprehension about all this. Remember, these are premium primed athletes who are very conscious of everything they put in their body," Doug Eldridge, Sports Agent and Analyst, DLE Agency. "If I test positive for it – regardless of the circumstances of how it got in my body – I’m responsible for it."
It is important to note that some athletes have faith-based concerns as well as pre-existing medical conditions preventing them from wanting the COVID-19 vaccine, but according to sports agent Doug Eldridge, there is a lot of hesitancy across the board.
FOX 5 did reach out to the Washington Football Team to see why a majority of their players don’t want to get the shot and their plan of action ahead of training camp. They say the lack of vaccinated players reflects personal medical information so they won’t be commenting.
What we do know right now is that the NFL is not requiring players to get the shot--it’s a choice. However, those who aren’t vaccinated have to get tested daily, wear a mask, can’t eat with their teammates, can’t be part of media and marketing activities on the road, and can’t leave their hotel.
An infectious disease expert tells FOX 5 he thinks the NFL should mandate the vaccine so players can have a safe and smooth season.
"We know the country as a whole is facing a wall of vaccine hesitancy that also impacts the National Football League," Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Amesh Adalja said. "I think this is something that’s going to make playing a normal football season difficult because we know we’re going to have cases and exposures that result in quarantines. We’re seeing that already with the Major League Baseball teams."
Dr. Adalja there says he wants everyone to think about how much covid-19 disrupted a lot of the activities we love to do so he says if you don’t want to go through even more interruptions--it’s best to get the shot.
According to an Associated Press report, Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver have the highest vaccination rates and are among seven teams that have achieved at least 85%.
The report says about 70% of players have been vaccinated in the league and teams on the lower end of the vaccination table face potential competitive disadvantages.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.