Five notable starters reportedly among Vikings unvaccinated players

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Dalvin Cook
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Dalvin Cook /

A recent report revealed that 12 of the current 53 players on the Minnesota Vikings active roster are unvaccinated or still have not received a full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

A week from today, the Minnesota Vikings will be looking to open up the regular season with a 1-0 record by defeating Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Except for tight end Irv Smith Jr. and rookie left tackle Christian Darrisaw, the majority of the Vikings‘ projected 2021 starters are expected to be on the field for the matchup against the Bengals.

But thanks to the COVID-19 virus, Minnesota having most of their top players in the lineup for Week 1 won’t be a guarantee until they actually step onto the field in Cincinnati.

Several top Minnesota Vikings players remain unvaccinated heading into Week 1

Back on August 3, the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala reported that the Vikings had the lowest vaccination rate in the NFL, with only 70 percent of their players having at least one dose of the vaccine and 64.5 fully vaccinated.

On Sunday, we learned that that 12 of the 53 players on Minnesota’s active roster still have not received a full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Star Tribune. The Star Tribune also revealed that five members of this group of 12 consists of Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, and Dalvin Tomlinson, who are all expected to be starters for the Vikings this season.

With an additional player that isn’t fully vaccinated yet on Minnesota’s practice squad, the Vikings’ current vaccination rate is at 81.2 percent at best, well below the NFL’s current leaguewide vaccination rate of 93 percent.

However, the Star Tribune is also reporting that several Minnesota players are currently “in the process of getting vaccinated.” So their vaccination rate should increase in the near future.

This year, the NFL has set different rules for players that are vaccinated and for those that are unvaccinated. The way the rules are currently set up, teams with a higher vaccination rate will have more of an advantage.

Take for example, if a player this season tests positive for COVID-19 on a Thursday, but they are asymptomatic. If the player is vaccinated, then there’s still a chance that they could play in their team’s game if it’s scheduled for the following Sunday or Monday if they are able to produce a negative test on Friday and Saturday.

If an unvaccinated player is in the same scenario, not only would they have to miss their team’s game on Sunday or Monday, but they could be forced to sit out the team’s next game as well if the contest is set to take place on the Sunday of the week after their first missed game. Unvaccinated players are required to quarantine for at least 10 days after a positive test, whether they are asymptomatic or not.

If an unvaccinated player is considered a high-risk close contact, like Cousins was earlier this summer, then they must quarantine for at least five days, while a vaccinated player is not required to miss any time if they have close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus.

So for guys that are reportedly unvaccinated on the Vikings roster like Thielen, Cook, and Smith, none of them have to even test positive for COVID-19 to possibly miss a game this season. If they are just even around someone who gets infected with the virus, then they will be forced to isolate themselves from the team for at least five days.

This is much different than if a player is lost for some time with an injury. At least with an injury, they typically happen during a game, which gives a team at least a week to prepare for a player possibly missing time.

With the virus, the Vikings could find out about a player testing positive or an unvaccinated player being a close contact the morning before a game. Minnesota would then have to scramble to figure out how they would make up for that player’s absence, and that is something that could certainly have a negative effect on their chances for a win heading into a game.

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With their reported vaccination rate still being among the lowest in the NFL, it, unfortunately, seems like it’s not a question of if any Vikings players or staff will miss time due to the COVID-19 virus this season, it’s a question of when.