Harsin: Auburn hasn’t reached 85% vaccination threshold

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin expects to be out of COVID-19 quarantine by game week, but said Wednesday that the Tigers’ vaccination rate hasn’t reached the 85% threshold.

Harsin, who has declined to say if he’s vaccinated, has been in quarantine since he tested positive on Aug. 19. Defensive coordinator Derek Mason has also had a breakthrough case despite being vaccinated.

“Let me be clear: I am not anti-vaccine, and any narrative along those lines is misinformed,” Harsin said on a Zoom session with reporters. “I fully support the choice for anyone to vaccinate.

“I also support getting reliable data-driven information in the hands of those who still have questions about the vaccine. Anyone who’s been in our facility knows that.”

Harsin said in July that some 60% of the players had been fully vaccinated, adding later that that number had gone up. He declined to give specific rates for the team but said it hasn’t reached the Southeastern Conference’s recommended 85% threshold.

The SEC won’t require regular testing for teams reaching that threshold.

Also, fully vaccinated, asymptomatic individuals won’t have to quarantine after close contact to someone with COVID-19.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll approach that” threshold, Harsin said, noting that the vaccination numbers have gone up over the past few days.

The Tigers open on Sept. 4 against Akron.

Harsin said he is “feeling good” and has been watching practice live and presiding over meetings from home. He said the positive result came from one of the regular twice-weekly testing within the team and that no other coach or player was quarantined because of contact with him.

Harsin added that the players were informed Tuesday of the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

LSU, Oregon and Oregon State have mandated proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test for fans attending games. Other teams in the SEC are almost fully vaccinated, including Ole Miss, where every player and staff member has had the shots, according to coach Lane Kiffin.

“We cannot mandate vaccinations to our players,” Harsin said. “Other states and universities can. We can’t do that, so that’s not a football coach’s decision.

“That’s a state-by-state, university-by-university decision, alright, and I’m aware of that and that’s important that we understand that.”

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