Vaccination Rates an Issue for NFL Teams, but What About Eagles?

The vaccination status of the Eagles is still unknown with players reporting on Tuesday and the first practice set for Wednesday
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To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

That has been the Shakespearean question as training camps around the league open their doors.

The Eagles report Tuesday. The first practice is Wednesday, and it isn’t until after Wednesday’s practice that Nick Sirianni will talk to the media.

The first-year coach will have plenty of questions thrown his way. He hasn’t spoken, after all since June 4.

The vaccination issue will be one of those questions.

Sirianni could get in front of it by addressing the situation without being asked, the way Andy Reid did on Friday, the same day that the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Allen Stills, held a media call.

Reid volunteered that about 90 percent of the Chiefs were vaccinated and 100 percent of the staff has been vaccinated.

Stills, as reported by Albert Breer of The MMQB, said 80 percent of all players are vaccinated, with nine teams having more than 90 percent of players with at least one shot and five teams with lower than 70 percent vaccination rate.

The decision to address it or not won’t likely be up to Sirianni.

The edict would likely come from the front office, perhaps even owner Jeffrey Lurie himself.

Eagles players will be asked, too.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was asked if he was vaccinated and he said that it was a violation of his HIPAA rights, even though it is technically not a violation to be asked about it, per an article in the Washington Post.

Whatever the case, it is a sticky situation.

On Thursday, the NFL released a memo to all 32 teams that said it will not add a 19th week to the regular-season schedule and if a game is canceled due to an outbreak of unvaccinated players, that team would forfeit. Also, neither team would be paid that week’s salary.

That seems to be far-fetched since the league made it through a 17-week season last year without having to add an 18th week and that was in the middle of the global pandemic.

In Minnesota on Friday, offensive line coach Rick Dennison was dismissed for refusing to get the vaccination shot.

On Saturday, the president of Allegiant Athletic Agency tweeted: “A NFL team today interested in working out & signing a free agent client. When they found out he wasn’t vaccinated they were no longer interested. The rules the NFL implemented in reality mandates the vaccine for back end roster types.”

It is important to understand a team’s vaccination rate given the high stakes in play here.

It will be challenging enough for the 40-year-old Sirianni in his first season as a head coach at any level to navigate a field of low expectations with a roster, not many believe, is strong enough to do much damage without having to worry about a potential delta variant wreaking any further havoc.

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Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.