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Packers star QB Aaron Rodgers explains decision to not receive COVID-19 vaccine

Packers star QB Aaron Rodgers explains decision to not receive COVID-19 vaccine
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, shown Sept. 5, 2019, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and will miss Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. File Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he didn't lie when talking about his vaccination status and explained his reasoning for not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in a wide-ranging interview Friday.

Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and is considered unvaccinated by the NFL and its players' union. He is in quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and will miss the Packers' game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

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During a 46-minute appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers said he is allergic to an ingredient in two of the three FDA-approved vaccines -- the ones produced by Pfizer and Moderna, known as mRNA vaccines.

Rodgers also confirmed that he underwent a treatment aimed at boosting his immunity and appealed the league to be considered fully vaccinated, but the veteran quarterback lost that appeal.

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"I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some woke culture or crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something," Rodgers said. "Health is not a one-size-fits-all for everybody, and for me it involved a lot of study in the off-season."

The Super Bowl-winning quarterback then addressed his comments from August regarding his vaccination status. When asked in the summer whether he was vaccinated against the coronavirus, Rodgers responded: "Yeah, I've been immunized."

"First of all, I didn't lie in the initial press conference," Rodgers said Friday. "During that time, it was a witch hunt that was going on across the league, where everybody in the media was so concerned about who was vaccinated and who wasn't and what that meant and who was being selfish and who would talk about it, what it meant if they said it's a personal decision and they shouldn't have to disclose their own medical information.

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"And at the time, my plan was to say that I have been immunized. It wasn't some sort of ruse or lie. It was the truth. But had there been a follow up to my statement that I've been immunized ... I would have said, 'Look, I'm not some sort of anti-vax, flat-Earther. I am somebody who's a critical thinker.'"

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The 37-year-old Rodgers said his only option among the approved vaccines was the Johnson & Johnson shot because of his allergy, noting that he wasn't comfortable taking it due to the reported side effects.

Rodgers, who said he's taking ivermectin, zinc and monoclonal antibodies, didn't reveal the exact treatment plan that he underwent before his appeal to the league, the NFL Players Association and the jointly approved infectious disease expert.

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"You know, my desire to immunize myself was what was best for my body, and that's why this is so important to me," Rodgers said. "My medical team advising me that the danger of an adverse event [to the vaccine] was greater than the risk of getting COVID and recovering. So I made a decision that was in the best interest of my body."

Rodgers said he experienced COVID-19 symptoms Tuesday and tested positive the next day. He didn't feel well Thursday but said he felt much better Friday.

The Packers, along with the NFL and the union, were aware of Rodgers' vaccination status since the start of training camp in July. According to the quarterback, he has followed all required protocols as an unvaccinated player, including daily testing and mask wearing around the team facility.

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Rodgers, however, admitted that he doesn't believe he should have to wear a mask during news conferences. The three-time MVP believes it's unnecessary for a player who is tested daily to wear a mask in a room full of people who are vaccinated, masked and socially distanced from him.

"I have followed every single protocol to a 'T' -- minus that one I just mentioned that makes absolutely no sense to me," Rodgers said. "... I have taken this very seriously. I'm not a COVID denier or any [expletive] like that. I just wanted to make the decision that was best for my body. That's it.

"I wear my mask when I go out in public. The only time I haven't worn my mask is when I'm around all vaccinated people. My response to those people would be like, 'Hey, just so you know, I tested negative this morning, No. 1, and No. 2, you got vaccinated against something that you would be worried about me having, which I just told you I'm negative.'"

The earliest Rodgers could return from the reserve/COVID-19 list is Nov. 13, the day before the Packers' game against the Seattle Seahawks. Jordan Love, the team's first-round pick in 2020, will start against the Chiefs on Sunday.

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