(New York) — Nearly 88% of NFL players have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, a week after the league announced that teams could face potential forfeits and lost paychecks for outbreaks among unvaccinated players.
On Thursday, NFL Communications Director Brian McCarthy said on Twitter that 87.9% of players have gotten at least one shot. Among the leagues' 32 teams, 19 of them have more than 90% of players partially vaccinated, and seven have more than 95%, he said.
The partial vaccination rate among NFL players overall is up from over 75% a week ago, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned teams that outbreaks may result in having to forfeit games during the regular 18-week season.
If a game is canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players and it can't be rescheduled, the team with the outbreak will have to forfeit the game, and players on both teams won't get paid, he said in a memo to the athletes.
The NFL is striving to have at least 85% of players on each team vaccinated. Vaccination is not required among players, per an agreement with their union, the NFL Players Association.
Teams just opened training camps this week, during which COVID-19 protocols include daily testing and mask requirements for players who are not fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated players are tested every two weeks.
The NFL Players Association told "Good Morning America" Saturday that the union agreed with the league's new protocols, but would support any athlete who doesn't want to get vaccinated.
"We know that vaccinations have reduced infection rates and so we feel good about this, but still want you to make the choice for yourself," Benjamin Watson, vice president of the association, told ESPN's Matt Barrie.
"If a player does not want to get vaccinated, we will stand by him 100%," he said.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill told reporters on the first day of training camp Wednesday he felt the league was unjustly forcing them to get vaccinated.
"The NFL has made it clear what they want to happen," he said, adding he was in the process of getting fully vaccinated. "If you don't fall in line, they're going to try and make your life miserable because of the protocol. I wouldn't have gotten the vaccine without the protocols that they are enforcing on us. I think it's a personal decision for each of us."