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Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer Says Unvaccinated Players Will Have 'A Hard Time'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A day after three Minnesota Vikings players said they are not vaccinated against COVID-19, head coach Mike Zimmer said the team had a meeting with the NFL's chief medical officer to discuss the shot.

"[Dr. Allen Sills] talked to them about what protocols will be like next fall, which we should be hearing in the next couple of days," Zimmer said. "He talked to them about why they should, even if they have had COVID, still get vaccinated because your antibodies are way off the charts. You're going to be safer if it comes back again."

Tuesday, while speaking to the media, safety Harrison Smith, wide receiver Adam Thielen and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson each announced they have not been vaccinated, despite the widespread availability of the shot.

All three players mentioned they were trying to gather information on the vaccine before making a decision.

"I'm trying to find out as much information as I can about it, but you know, now, I'm not," Richardson said. "Gotta wear masks and stuff like that."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins was asked Wednesday if he was vaccinated.

"I choose to keep my medical history private, as with anything else that goes on," he said. "I think people just need to make their own decision and make the one that's best for them and their families. We'll let them make their own decision."

The NFL has said it will not mandate the vaccine for players, but is encouraging them to get it by loosening restrictions and protocols for fully-vaccinated players.

The Vikings have hosted multiple vaccination clinics at the team's practice facility and U.S. Bank Stadium. In May, the team posted a photo gallery to its website featuring some players, including Thielen's fellow wide receiver Justin Jefferson, getting the vaccine.

Zimmer has been vaccinated.

"The unvaccinated players are going to have a hard time during the season. They are going to be wearing masks, they're going to have to social distance, they'll have daily testing," Zimmer said. "They won't go home for bye week and have to come back here and test every day. When we go on the road, they won't be able to go out to dinner with anybody. They'll have to travel on busses differently and travel on planes differently, so a lot of meetings will be virtual like we have here. It's not only the safety part of being vaccinated, but as far as being a part of a football team."


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