Falcons say they're first NFL team to reach 100% COVID-19 vaccination rate among players

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With preseason in full swing, the Atlanta Falcons have accomplished something no other NFL team is believed to have done. 

Everybody is vaccinated. 

The Falcons announced Monday that 100% of its roster is vaccinated against COVID-19, confirming an earlier report from WSB Atlanta's Zach Klein. Per the Falcons, they are the first and only NFL team to reach the 100% vaccination threshold. No other team has made that claim.

Monday's news marks an uptick from July 23 when the Falcons reported a 92% vaccination rate among players. In addition to the health benefits of vaccinating against COVID-19, the Falcons and other teams with high vaccination rates gain a competitive advantage.

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 13: A Falcons helmet on the sidelines during the Friday night preseason NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tennessee Titans on August 13, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The NFL's COVID-19 vaccine incentives and disincentives appear to be working in Atlanta and around the league. (David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NFL's COVID-19 vaccine incentives

Teams that reach an 85% vaccination rate face reduced COVID-19 safety mandates around testing, masking, social distancing and access to team facilities. While players don't face the same vaccine mandate as coaches and team staff members, the league has set in place significant disincentives for players who aren't vaccinated.

Instead of postponing and rescheduling games like last season, the NFL plans to cancel games when COVID-19 outbreaks occur in 2021. The team with an outbreak among unvaccinated players in a matchup that's canceled will take a loss. Players on both teams will lose their game checks, prompting players to monitor each other via peer pressure

NFL Network's Judy Bautista reported on Aug. 11 that 91.7% of the league's players were fully vaccinated, well above the 59.4% vaccination rate among eligible Americans (12 years of age and older) reported by the CDC as of Monday. The Falcons join the Ole Miss football team in reaching 100% vaccination rate after head coach Lane Kiffin announced last week that every player and staff member had been vaccinated. The WNBA, meanwhile, is setting the pace for leagues, having announced in late June that 99% of its players were fully vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccine has taken on extra urgency as the Delta variant is responsible in a growing outbreak across the U.S. As of Monday, COVID-19 has claimed more than 620,000 American lives and killed more than 4.3 million worldwide, per Johns Hopkins data. 

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