Warrick Dunn, NFL alumni launch program to fight COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy


In early August, NFL Alumni Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) launched an education campaign and community outreach program intended to help build COVID-19 vaccination confidence across the nation.

The NFL Alumni team consists of more than 40 current and retired players -- including former running back Warrick Dunn, who hopes that the program's messages and contributions will better communities.

"I'm just trying to encourage individuals to get the vaccine. Why? Because you want to protect yourself, your family, and your community," Dunn told the JR SportBrief show on Wednesday. "If you're not confident about it, if you have a lot of questions, seek a doctor. Go out and really understand the opportunity that you have to get vaccinated and protect yourself and people in your community.

"Football is an important game. What it taught me is teamwork, commitment and sacrifice. And really educating yourself about the vaccine and really not thinking about yourself, but thinking about others around you. If I do my part and if other individuals do their part, we can all get past this moment and get back to normalcy... Get informed, understand, talk to your doctor, and do what's in your best interest..."

According to data from the CDC, only 51.7-percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 61-percent have received at least one dose. Vaccination rates have slowed this summer, while the Delta variant surges nationwide. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data says more than 100,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States -- a level not seen since Jan. 30.

As for the NFL, 92.7-percent of all players are fully vaccinated or in the process, according to Washington Post reporter Nicki Jhabvala. Of the league's 32 teams, all but four have rates at or above 89-percent.

In a memo released in July, the NFL informed teams that if a game can't be rescheduled and is canceled due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, that team will have to forfeit, and be credited with a loss. The league memo also stated that neither team's players will be paid for a game that's cancelled and unable to be rescheduled.

The entire NFL and COVID-19 conversation between Dunn and JR can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow the JR SportBrief show on Twitter @JRSportBrief and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy Sports
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jason Getz / USA TODAY Sports