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Premier League says 16% players unvaccinated amid COVID-19 crisis

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The Premier League has reported that 16% of players registered with its 20 member clubs have yet to receive a first vaccine against COVID-19 and that only 77% of players are classed as fully vaccinated after receiving two doses.

During a meeting involving the Premier League, Football Association and representatives of the 20 clubs on Monday, it was agreed that the fixture list will continue as scheduled over the Christmas period, despite a recent surge in positive coronavirus tests that has seen 10 games postponed since Dec. 12.

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But amid concerns over a low take-up of vaccination among players, the Premier League also pledged to "work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff "in an effort to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the fixture list.

In a statement, the Premier League said: "The League also confirmed to its clubs today that 92% of players and club staff have received one, two or three COVID-19 vaccination doses, with 84% of players on the vaccination journey.

"Players who have had one or two doses are required to wait for the appropriate time period before receiving either their second or booster vaccinations.

"The League continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff, as well as promoting the government's public health vaccination messaging to clubs and the wider public.

"No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the league, and player vaccination rates will now be publicly communicated at the end of each month, beginning in January."

In Italy, Serie A has recorded 98% of players being fully vaccinated, with 92% in Germany's Bundesliga and 92% in Spain's LaLiga.

Players classed as not being fully vaccinated must isolate for 10 days if they are deemed to have been in close contact, even if they return a negative test result, and this has resulted in some clubs being unable to meet the minimum requirement of having 14 players, including a goalkeeper, to contest a Premier League fixture.

As of now, 23% of Premier League players are not classed as fully vaccinated and are therefore at risk of a 10-day isolation period as described above.

Despite managers including Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel raising concerns about fulfilling fixture demands in the midst of surging numbers of positive cases, the Premier League decided to continue with games until further notice.

With the United Kingdom operating under the so-called "Plan B" coronavirus measures, which do not include social restrictions such as a national lockdown, the Premier League clubs have chosen to attempt to play on through the problems that have engulfed the game over the past 10 days.

However, there is a threat of games being played behind closed doors again, as was the case for the majority of last season, if the coronavirus situation throughout England continues to deteriorate.

Reports have suggested that the government is coming under pressure from scientific and medical advisors to impose social distancing measures and blanket restrictions as a result of the emergence of the Omicron variant and the Premier League is now awaiting direction from politicians in terms of the possibility of measures that could lead to crowds being kept away from sporting and entertainment venues.

The Premier League recorded 90 new positive tests in the past week, it said in a statement later on Monday, topping the previous highest total set last week at 42 tests.