Tiger Stadium Vaccination Site

People wait in line and fill out paperwork on Mar. 14, 2021 while social distancing at the Tiger Stadium vaccination site.

The Southeastern Conference held its annual media day in Hoover, Ala. Monday, and The Advocate reported Tuesday that the LSU football team has one of the highest vaccination rates in the SEC.

The team has over 90% of its personnel vaccinated. The Tigers will have more flexibility with COVID-19 protocols in the SEC and are less likely to forfeit games on their schedule if there are COVID-19 outbreaks in the upcoming football season.

When new university President William Tate took office at the start of July, only 26% of the student body had reported to LSU that they were fully vaccinated. Tate said at the time that the rate was unacceptable, and that it must increase substantially if the students want to experience a 2019-like, pre-pandemic semester. 

But the LSU football season should go as planned. 

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey recommended teams not reschedule games due to outbreaks this season, especially with the novel Delta variant surging in the U.S. Sankey proposed an incentive that if the SEC meets an 85% threshold, teams will no longer be required to test for COVID-19 or wear masks inside their facilities. 

Sankey also said six of the fourteen teams in the SEC have reached an 80% vaccination rate and Georgia coach Kirby Smart confirmed the Bulldogs have a rate of over 85%.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said most of LSU’s team is vaccinated, but did not specify an exact vaccination rate. Orgeron also said he believes the vaccine is a personal choice but hopes most of the team gets vaccinated.

Several games were rescheduled in the 2020 season, but Sankey said the SEC will not set extra time aside again this season to accommodate outbreaks. Sankey said vaccines are widely available and highly effective so there is the ability to avoid any health risk.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,325 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 Monday. It also reported that 711 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon, the highest number since February. 

Chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center Dr. Catherine O’Neal said in a press conference Friday Louisiana’s largest hospital has admitted the largest number of patients since January. She said Louisianans can either get vaccinated or “accept death.”

Sankey said the SEC is prepared to proceed with the football season as scheduled.

LSU is still set for its season-opener on Sept. 4 against UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The venue is expected to have a 100% stadium capacity as of now. Los Angeles County, which Pasadena is a part of, restored its mask mandate Sunday.

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