The Premier League says that 68% of its players are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 after concerns over a lack of take-up.
Estimates had earlier placed the number of double-jabbed players at less than 50%, with a number of managers, including Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp, calling on top-flight players to comply.
The Premier League has released official figures for the first time, which show 81% have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The league said it would “continue to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff”.
Figures were not broken down beyond a top number, and the league said it would not name individuals. A 68% fully vaccinated figure remains way short of other top leagues in Europe. Last week the Bundesliga said 94% of its players were fully vaccinated and Italian press reported figures as high as 98% in Serie A.
The league will see the numbers as moving in the right direction after a period of growing uncertainty and tension. Reports last month suggested players had been sharing vaccine misinformation on WhatsApp, and the league organised sessions with the government’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, to improve uptake.
The most prominent intervention came from Guardiola, however. The Manchester City manager lost his mother to Covid-19 last year and he said that “the only solution” for players was to consider getting vaccinated.
“When all the scientists, all the doctors, all the big specialists about medicine say the only solution to eradicate or help to move forward after this two years of pandemic situation is being vaccinated, I think they should consider it,” he said.
In a statement the Premier League said: “[We] can confirm today that 81% of players have received at least one Covid-19 vaccination dose with 68% now fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates are collected by the Premier League on a weekly basis.”