The NFL is urging every team across the league to reach vaccination thresholds so the 2021 season doesn’t have the issues that the 2020 season had, with games rescheduled and players landing on COVID lists.
The Washington Football Team has surpassed a 50 percent vaccination rate, but that’s still not good enough for head coach Ron Rivera, who doesn’t want the team to befall the fate that other teams faced in 2020.
Speaking on Tuesday, Rivera says he is “beyond frustrated” with his team’s low vaccination rate.
“Now, for whatever reason, we have some reluctance to do that, to get the vaccine,” Rivera said (via ESPN). “These young men have to make the decision for themselves. Hopefully they can understand how impactful not getting the vaccine is, and you’d like to believe with all the news that’s been out there in terms of the fact that people are being hospitalized, that are dying from COVID right now, are those that aren’t vaccinated.”
But more than the potential effects on the team, Rivera has reason to be concerned with his personal health. After undergoing chemotherapy for skin cancer last year, Rivera is immunodeficient.
Coronavirus has been proven to be especially harmful for people who have compromised immune systems, as Rivera has. The coach says he’s still taking steps in public to protect himself further, including wearing a mask in groups.
“When I’m in a group and the group’s not vaccinated or there’s a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons because nobody really knows,” Rivera said. “I have to do that. And I just wish and I hope that our guys can understand that.”
WFT has brought in specialsts on vaccination to help educate the team, but to no avail; defensive lineman Montez Sweat was one of Washington’s most vocal players opposing the thought of getting the vaccine.
In 2020, WFT was one of the league leaders in coronavirus avoidance, with just two players — neither on the team’s 53-man roster — testing positive for COVID-19. Rivera wants to take steps to make sure that continues in 2021.