Among the numerous things that Brian Kelly spoke about at today’s press conference to kick off fall camp, the vaccination rate of his team was one of them. Kelly said that the team is currently at a 95% vaccination rate putting the Fighting Irish in a position where a cancelation like last year’s Wake Forest game or a game missing multiple starters like South Florida is much less likely.
“The good news is we’re 95 percent vaccinated with our team,”Brian Kelly said on Saturday. “With the new NCAA rules and regulations, right now we would not have a scenario that with the small number of unvaccinated that we do have through exceptions if they did get sick, it would not cause a test of our vaccinated, which is the big issue here.”
The high vaccination rate among the Irish roster also means more flexibility for the entire team throughout the season. “Because of that, we’re in a good position to not require our guys to, in workouts, wear masks, or when we are eating. But if things change, then we’re prepared certainly to do that,” said Kelly.
Notre Dame is requiring all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated for 2021 other than those who have applied for an exception with the University. That includes the Notre Dame coaching staff. Exceptions can be for medical or religious reasons.
According to Douglas Farmer of the NBC, four percent of the total Notre Dame population has been approved for an exception.
“That’s also the case with our staff because we fall into the same category because we’re working with the players. We’re in a similar position with the vaccination amongst our staff, and as you know, the university has required that, or file for an exemption. But if you do, if you’re inside, you must wear a facemask and practice the CDC guidelines,” Kelly said.
Notre Dame had an outbreak of COVID-19 prior to the South Florida game causing numerous players to be held out of the contest just hours before kick-off. Their road game the following weekend against Wake Forest was subsequently postponed before ultimately being canceled after the Irish clinched a spot in the ACC Championship regardless of the outcome of the game. The entire program had to be shut down temporarily following the outbreak.
With so much of the team and campus vaccinated, a similar shut down is highly unlikely this fall though the rise of the Delta variant was on Kelly’s mind on Saturday.
“I think we feel really comfortable where we are. We know that there’s the potential that it could go back to that, and I think we’ve made the appropriate arrangements if, in fact, it does.”