English football has a vaxxing problem: Richard Buxton
Inoculation rates are low in EPL as some players subscribe to misinformation
Leading by example remains the golden rule for all professional footballers.
Off the pitch at least, they should act as role models for the rest of society.
But many are sending out a different message by allowing themselves to be led astray.
Callum Robinson, who scored twice in Ireland's comfortable 3-0 win over Azerbaijan yesterday morning (Singapore time), is the latest to prove that point.
The West Bromwich Albion forward's pre-match admission that he has refused the Covid-19 vaccine, despite testing positive twice in the past 12 months, overshadowed Stephen Kenny's long-awaited first competitive victory in World Cup qualifying.
Robinson's cynicism of coronavirus prevention measures is hardly an outlier within the elite-level game, as the English Premier League's alarmingly slow inoculation uptake attests.
Last month, just seven teams were said to have more than 50 per cent of their first-team squads vaccinated, with top-flight chiefs looking to incentivise the refuseniks.
Clubs are still reluctant to publicly reveal their immunisation figures, with only Juergen Klopp recently confirming that "99 per cent" of Liverpool's dressing room is now vaccinated.
More than most, the German has felt the personal toll of the pandemic after being denied the chance to attend his mother's funeral in January due to travel restrictions. She died of Covid-19.
Yet Klopp's reasons for taking the vaccine were driven by a sense of civic duty, not emotion. He saw it as a logical step in limiting the virus' impact on others as well as himself. That self-awareness is not fully reflected on the Liverpool manager's doorstep.
Fabian Delph's response to being grounded from Everton's pre-season tour of the United States, after having contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19 was to share anti-vaxxer propaganda on his Instagram page in the days which followed.
Such dangerous messaging is being amplified in dressing rooms across England, with players of all ages gaining access to conspiracy theories through social media channels.
They, however, would do well to check their privilege after numerous teammates and general peers played fast and loose with the rules at various stages of the pandemic.
Players from five EPL clubs were caught breaching social distancing protocols during the Christmas period while Ben Chilwell, who opened the scoring in England's 5-0 dismantling of Andorra yesterday morning, defied advice to attend Tammy Abraham's birthday celebrations last October.
Abraham, to his credit, has since become the first Three Lions player to volunteer that he is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
His compatriots are not as forthcoming amid claims that up to five members of Gareth Southgate's side still refuse to be immunised.
Granted, not all players that refuse to disclose their vaccination status will be members of the anti-vaxxer mob; many are potentially sidestepping the question out of fear of the abuse their answer will invariably generate online among the frothing masses.
Now more than ever, though, those in the EPL and beyond must recognise their importance in helping accelerate a return to genuine normality, rather than the illusion proffered by stadiums returning to full capacity at the start of the current campaign.
Going against the grain, and often their own manager's advice, does little other than undermine football's ongoing attempts to dilute the societal impact of the coronavirus.
Until the pandemic is finally under control, personal views must take a back seat.
"I don't understand why that (vaccination) is a limitation of freedom because, if it is, then not being allowed to drink and drive is a limitation of freedom as well."
- Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp