Patriots

‘We’re better off if everyone is vaccinated’: Bill Belichick clarifies last week’s vaccine comments

'Even if everyone is vaccinated, that doesn't solve all our problems.'

Bill Belichick vaccines
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick clarifies comments about vaccines. AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Patriots coach Bill Belichick clarified his point last week about vaccines on Monday prior to his conversation with the media, after the NFL released a statement regarding his comments.

Before taking questions, Belichick reiterated to reporters that no player — presumably referencing former quarterback Cam Newton — has been released or kept due to vaccination status.

“My comment relative to the vaccinations is that’s an individual decision for every person to make,” Belichick said. “As a team, we’re better off if everyone is vaccinated, and that being said, even if everyone is vaccinated, that doesn’t solve our problems as we’ve seen multiple players, assistant coaches, head coaches throughout the league have tested positive for COVID even after they have been vaccinated.

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“It is still incumbent upon us to be vigilant in our daily hygiene and decision making for the health and safety of each of us individually and our team. We’ll continue to follow league protocols as we always do, but that’s not a factor in any player’s release or non-release.”

After the Patriots cut Newton, Belichick was adamant that Newton’s vaccine status — which has been the subject of much speculation — did not factor into his decision.

“Look, you guys keep talking about that,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “I would just point out that I don’t know what the number is, but the number of players, coaches and staff members that have been affected by covid in this training camp — who have been vaccinated — is a pretty high number. So I wouldn’t lose sight of that.”

The NFL, however, disputed Belichick’s claims in an interview with the league’s chief medical officer Allen Sills.

We released our data last week from the first three weeks of August, and that data has consistently shown higher rates of infection in unvaccinated players than in vaccinated players,” Sills said. “That was true at intake when they first came into training camp and it was true during that first three-week period of August that we released. From a medical perspective, go to any major medical center in the country and as you walk around, those patients who are hospitalized, those who are in the ICU, you see the evidence the vaccines are working.

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We know that vaccines are working. What we are seeing are some vaccinated people who test positive. But their illness tends to be very short and very mild, and that’s exactly what the vaccines were designed to do. Let’s all remember the vaccines were designed to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. They’re doing a terrific job of that so far, not only in the NFL where we haven’t seen any serious cases but in society as a whole.

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