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61% of Georgia Southern football team has received at least one dose of COVID vaccine

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:19 AM EDT
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STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Nearly one week into fall camp, the Georgia Southern athletic department confirmed that 61 percent of the football team has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, August 12, 2021.

A spokesperson for the department issued the following statement via email:

“We continue to educate our student-athletes and staff on the importance of getting vaccinated, but it remains a personal choice for all and we support that. Dating back to the spring semester, Georgia Southern has been proactively providing educational information to our student-athletes and staff on the benefits of being vaccinated. Additionally, medical personnel have spoken to, and continue to speak to, all of our teams regarding the medical research behind the vaccine.”

They added that according to NCAA guidance, all unvaccinated student-athletes took a COVID test when they returned to campus and are tested on a weekly basis.

Those who are vaccinated will not be tested weekly unless they show symptoms and will not be subjected to contact tracing.

The statement continued:

“We understand that fully vaccinated teams give us the best chance to be successful this year and continue to strive for a 100 percent vaccination rate within the entire department.”

On Monday when speaking with the media, Athletic Director Jared Benko said providing education for the student-athletes is critical.

“We do bring in speakers and doctors. I’m not a doctor, obviously, but we can bring in people who are very educated in this space and continue to help our student-athletes, because we are educators. We’re in an institute of higher education right now if you think about Georgia Southern,” Benko said. “It is an individual decision, and so you know personally, I share with them why I got vaccinated and why that’s important, but ultimately we’re trying to make sure that they have education. We’re not indoctrinating them, but we are educating them on the information out there and then they can make a decision as an adult.”

The Sun Belt Conference has said that teams who cannot play due to players being out with COVID will be forced to forfeit, which will show up as losses in the standings.

“I can’t speak to what other campuses are doing, but I know for us, we’re doing as efficient of a job as possible of getting the right people to talk to our student athletes,” Benko said.

Head Coach Chad Lunsford said that after last season when the Eagles were one of only two teams in the FBS to make it to a full 13-game slate, they need to continue to take precautions as a team.

“You know, because there is an uptick right now. We’ve definitely got to be very mindful about that type of stuff and we can’t lose focus of what it takes, Lunsford said in his preseason press conference. “We’ve got to be very disciplined, and regimented just like we were last year, so we don’t have those issues.”

The Eagles begin their 2021 campaign on Sept. 4 against Gardner Webb.

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