Vikings invite Dr. Michael Osterholm to talk to team about COVID-19 vaccine

The Minnesota Vikings invited University of Minnesota epidemiologist and infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm to speak to the team about the COVID-19 vaccine Monday as the team’s vaccination rate lags behind the rest of the NFL.

Head coach Mike Zimmer told the media he brought in Dr. Osterholm because he was concerned about his players’ health, not because he was worried about having to forfeit games. 

"I just I care about these players and I care about their families. And so, you know, that's my main reason," Zimmer said. "You know, they miss a game because they get COVID, so be it, you know.

But, I don't want them to get sick and I don't want their families to get sick and their kids to get sick or my grandkids get sick." 

Zimmer said players questioned Osterholm about things they had heard on the internet about the COVID-19 vaccine. He said the epidemiologist did a "terrific job" answering those questions. 

"I think that the more that we can show that its safe…we’re all going to stay healthy," Zimmer said. 

Osterholm's visit comes as the Vikings reportedly have one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the NFL. Coach Mike Zimmer has expressed frustration about players not getting the vaccine. 

Quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Nate Stanley and Kellen Mond missed several practices during training camp due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. In the regular season, key players could miss games if they test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact and are not vaccinated.