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Panthers have the third-highest vaccination rate in the NFL

Panthers have the third-highest vaccination rate in the NFL (The Charlotte Observer)
Panthers have the third-highest vaccination rate in the NFL (The Charlotte Observer)(Charlotte Observer)
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 4:41 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - The Carolina Panthers have some of the highest vaccination numbers of any team in the NFL heading into training camp.

As of July 26, 92% of players on the Panthers’ roster was at least partially vaccinated, meaning they had at least one shot, according to a league source with knowledge of the data. That trailed only the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, which had the first- and second-highest vaccination rates in the league.

Across the NFL, about 83% of all players have at least one shot, the source said.

Getting vaccinated was important for the Panthers’ staff. Rhule said the team didn’t require it, but encouraged it. They brought in medical experts during OTA’s to educate the players on the benefits of the vaccine. The vaccine significantly reduces infection and the severity of the virus.

“We provided information, we made it clear, ‘hey this is best for us to operate,’” Rhule said Tuesday. “But you have to do what you’re comfortable with. I’m not here to tell anybody what to do.

“I’m really proud of our guys for getting vaccinated. And our guys who didn’t get it, some of those guys have articulated their reasons to me, and I’m good with it.”

The Panthers were one of a number of teams in 2020 that dealt with players who had to miss games because of COVID protocols. In December 2020, the Panthers placed eight players, including five starters, on their COVID protocol list.

Last week, that the NFL sent a memo to its clubs reiterating that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the season because a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and be credited with a loss. Those players will also not be paid.

In recent weeks, a few players across the NFL, like Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley voiced their skepticism about the vaccine.

On June 9, Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold said he had not gotten the vaccine and was still pondering the decision.

Darnold, Christian McCaffrey and Shaq Thompson all declined to say whether they were vaccinated Tuesday, adding that it was a personal choice. Unvaccinated players are required to wear masks when speaking with the media, a Panthers spokesperson confirmed. Neither Darnold, McCaffrey or Thompson wore a mask when speaking with the media Tuesday.

Panthers offensive tackle Taylor Moton said Tuesday that he was fully vaccinated.

“Personally, I just knew it was going to be a lot smoother going through the season and I was going to be able to do a lot more, and not hold the team back in any way,” Moton said. “And also, keep my family safe. Especially the older people in my family.”

According to the NFL’s updated COVID protocol rules, if a vaccinated player or person tests positive and is asymptomatic, they will be isolated and will be permitted to return after two negative tests at least 24-hours apart. Vaccinated players will not have to quarantine as a result of close contact with an infected person.

However, unvaccinated players must adhere to the same rules from the 2020 season, and would have to isolate for 10 days if they are asymptomatic. They would have to isolate for five days if they come in close contact with an infected person.

PANTHERS LINEBACKER PLACED ON COVID LIST

The Panthers announced Tuesday they had placed outside linebacker Frankie Luvu on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. That means that the player either tested positive or came in close contact with someone who tested positive.

The Panthers signed Luvu this offseason after he spent his first three years with the Jets. He had 59 tackles and six sacks in three seasons with the Jets.

They also placed safety Lano Hill on the active/physically unable to perform list. He suffered a foot injury during OTAs, according to the Panthers.

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