Dickenson: Riders are 95 percent vaccinated, ‘it’s down to literally three guys’

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders/Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have become one of the CFL’s most vaccinated teams, according to head coach Craig Dickenson.

“We’re in really good shape. I think we’re at 95 percent right now [for players] that are at at least one shot. It’s down to literally three guys that aren’t and we’ll address it as it comes, but right now we feel pretty confident that we’re going to be able to dress the 44 that we want to dress even late in the season on a road game,” said Dickenson.

Team vaccination rates became a source of concern in late August when the Edmonton Elks experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 that infected 13 players.

The club’s Week 4 game against the Toronto Argonauts was postponed and the Elks would have had to forfeit the contest had it not been rescheduled for November. Edmonton’s tier-one personnel had also yet to reach the 85 percent vaccination threshold, which means the players would not have been paid for the cancelled game.

The federal government plans to ban individuals who are unvaccinated from traveling on commercial or charter flights as early as the end of September, which will make it challenging for CFL teams to have unvaccinated players take part in road games.

Dickenson isn’t concerned about his team facing travel issues as the club’s three remaining unvaccinated players don’t appear to have key roles.

“The reality is if they can’t travel and they can’t play, we’ll want to make sure that somebody else is practicing that week. Right now, the guys that have been playing that we plan on playing most of the games for the rest of the season are all vaccinated, so we feel like we’ll be alright.”

The CFL season is set to end with the Grey Cup on Sunday, Dec. 12 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.