UA Athletics reports 90% vaccination rate

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne announced on Aug. 23 that more than 90% of student-athletes, coaches and staff throughout the program have received the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The athletic program’s vaccination rate outpaces the state’s, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates nationwide. When Byrne announced the program’s numbers on Monday, about 36% of Alabama residents were fully vaccinated. 

The University has not yet released student rates, but the UA System COVID-19 Dashboard reports that 72% of employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Byrne, who tested positive for COVID last October, said he got the vaccine to protect himself and others. 

“With that, we saw the vaccine as something that gives us the best opportunity to get back to normal, and I feel like we’re making a lot of good progress with that which is encouraging to see,” Bryne said to Sports Illustrated in June.

Although vaccination is not required for enrollment, the University has offered several incentives to encourage vaccination, including $40 in Bama Cash and a raffle for housing scholarships, parking passes and football tickets. 

Louisiana State University became the first SEC school to issue a vaccine mandate for the football season on Aug. 24.

Following the Food and Drug Administration approval of the Pfizer vaccine, LSU issued a vaccination mandate for the upcoming football season. Fans that attend games at Tiger Stadium must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the game. 

LSU President William Tate IV said on Tuesday that it’s important for fans to get vaccinated ahead of the 2021 season. 

“While we are aware of the diverse perspectives across the nation regarding masks and vaccinations, we must take all reasonable measures to protect our campus and community, not only on gamedays, but long after guests have left Tiger Stadium,” Tate said. “The current threat to our lives, our health, and to our medical systems due to COVID-19 is overburdening our hospitals, and we must do our part to stop the spread.”

The first UA sporting event of the fall semester was women’s soccer on Aug. 19, and the biggest sporting event of the semester is two weeks away. Football will kick off its season on Sept. 4 in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide will play its first home game on Sept. 11 against Mercer. 

For the 2020-21 season, capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium was limited to 20%. There are no game day restrictions this season. 

The state-wide mask mandate ended April 9, but the University reinstated a temporary campus-wide mask mandate on Aug. 6. Under the mandate, masks are required in indoor settings, so outdoor sporting events will not be subject to restrictions.