How Ohio State’s Vaccine Mandate Impacts The Buckeyes’ Football Program

Vaccinated players aren’t subject to routine testing, limiting the chances of a game being forfeited.
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Ohio State president Kristina M. Johnson announced on Tuesday evening –one day after the Pfizer vaccine was given full approval by the FDA – that all students, faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

That, of course, includes every member of the Buckeyes’ football program, which is set to begin the 2021 season in eight days at Minnesota.

As it currently stands, unvaccinated players are required by the university to be tested twice per week, while those who are vaccinated are not subject to testing unless they show symptoms or are in close contact with someone who tested positive.

“Some guys jump on daily, but I think we’re right around 10 – or just under 10 – that are unvaccinated,” head coach Ryan Day during his press conference on Monday, the same day that the Big Ten announced that any team unable to play a game this fall due to COVID-19 would forfeit.

All students, faculty and staff must receive at least one dose of a vaccine by Oct. 15, but until that date arrives, any unvaccinated players remain subject to biweekly testing.

Ohio State had several games cancelled last season when vaccines weren’t available and daily antigen tested was required by the Big Ten, including one that was a result of a coronavirus outbreak within the program. But the lack of testing for vaccinated individuals combined with the university-wide mandate suggests the Buckeyes won’t be in a position to forfeit a game this fall.

As for those attending games, Ohio State announced this summer it is planning for full capacity in Ohio Stadium but that masks will be required indoors, regardless of vaccination status. There are no policies currently in place that prevent unvaccinated individuals from attending.

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