The COVID-19 has been a priority for Iowa football this summer. Back at Big Ten media day, the team vaccination rate was in the 70s. That number now sits in the “upper 90s”, according to Moon Family Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz.
“We’ve had people jump on that train,” Coach Ferentz said. “It’s been a big month moving the needle that way.”
It’s something that could help the team on the field, due to a new Big Ten forfeiture policy. After jumping through all kinds of hoops to reschedule, and ultimately cancel games last year; Big Ten teams that can’t play because of COVID will forfeit this year.
It’s also something they’ve talked about a lot off the field and one of the loudest voices has been starting quarterback Spencer Petras.
“We have those conversations on our team,” Petras said. “I won’t get into it too much, because that’s personal for a lot of guys. But I just hope that everyone has correct information and listens to doctors and medical experts.”
It’s a message that’s been echoed by those at the top of the program as well.
“This is Gary’s approach — it’s generally supported by the university’s approach — mandated or not, get vaccinated, because medically vaccination is how we’re going to beat this thing,” Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair Gary Barta said.
This week, the school is putting it’s money where it’s mouth is, by partnering with Hy-Vee to host a vaccine clinic for fans before the football team takes on Indiana Saturday.
The clinic will be located at the West Campus Transportation Center building from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Individuals will have the choice of Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer or the Moderna shot. Each recipient will have to stay in the observation area for at least 15 minutes after receiving the shot.
Unlike some other schools around the country, there is no mandate for the vaccine or negative testing before entry. It comes down to personal choice.
“I would love everybody who walks into the door today, everybody who walks into the stadium, to get vaccinated,” Barta said.
That likely won’t be the reality. Regardless, there are other avenues such as good hygiene and masks that are being recommended to help the school give a safe, healthy and full gameday experience for the first time in almost two years.
“COVID, is still critical,” Barta said. “Still top of mind of everything that we do every day as we’re working through this.”