With preseason practice starting Sunday, it appears Ole Miss has given itself an edge against COVID-19 this season.
Rebels football coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN that the Ole Miss football program has a 100% vaccination rate among its players, coaches, staff members and all personnel who will be on the practice field Sunday.
Kiffin also said that the team was nowhere near this number when summer began. Mississippi ranks last in the U.S. in terms of residents who have received at least one vaccination dose (41.6%), per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's pretty amazing and great motivation for our fans and the state," Kiffin told ESPN.
The competitive edge of his team being vaccinated clearly motivated Kiffin and his staff to not only get themselves vaccinated, but their players as well. At SEC Media Days, commissioner Greg Sankey made it clear that games will no longer be rescheduled in the event that a team has a COVID-19 outbreak like last year.
Although Sankey didn't commit to specifics, this could mean teams who are unable to compete due to an outbreak will have to forfeit their scheduled games.
"Nobody wants to be in a position to forfeit games," Kiffin said.
Sankey also said that teams who reach the 85% required vaccination threshold will not have to be regularly tested for COVID-19 and be subjected to the typical protocol, but teams under 85% will be tested.
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