Carolina Panthers among most COVID-19 vaccinated teams in the NFL

CHARLOTTE — Four NFL teams remain under 50% vaccinated less than two weeks from the start of training camp, a person familiar with the vaccination rates told The Associated Press.

Washington, Indianapolis, Arizona and the Los Angeles Chargers had the four lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the league as of Thursday, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, because the league hasn’t released the numbers.

Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver have the highest vaccination rates and are among 10 teams that have achieved at least 85%.

About 73% of all NFL players have been vaccinated. Teams on the lower end of the vaccination table face potential competitive disadvantages, though the NFL doesn’t plan to cancel any games this season, the person said.

In a memo sent to clubs last week and obtained by the AP on Thursday, the NFL, in conjunction with the NFLPA, updated protocols to allow teams traveling to joint practices to have their daily maximum of Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals. The traveling party will be either 100 or 140, depending on the club’s vaccination percentage.

The club must limit the number of individuals traveling on the team transportation to 85 but may travel additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff up to the applicable daily Tier limits separately to attend the practice.

Also, beginning at the start of training camp, teams will be required to develop a method to visually identify fully vaccinated Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals.

Utilizing color coded wristbands or credentials are recommended but clubs are free to implement other methods.

Last month, the NFL and the players’ union updated protocols to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated players and to encourage others to get the vaccine.

Unvaccinated players must continue to get daily testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing. They won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, can’t participate in media or marketing activities while traveling, aren’t permitted to use the sauna or steam room and may not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside the team while traveling.

Vaccinated players will not have any of those restrictions.

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