Anti-vaxxer sentiment among top NBA players is part of their reluctance to promote a coronavirus vaccine to the public, according to a report.
With COVID-19 vaccine mistrust especially pervasive in Black communities — and with the NBA regularly postponing games because of COVID-19 outbreaks — Commissioner Adam Silver proposed players receive vaccines as part of league-sponsored PSAs.
The players’ response was “tepid,” according to ESPN, which reported vaccine skepticism as a factor. The other players’ issue was “resistance to extending favors” to the NBA after being forced into an All-Star Game during a shortened season.
The vaccines were proven safe and effective in clinical trials, although the process was pushed at a record pace to fight the ongoing pandemic.
The players union did not return a request for comment.
The NBA, meanwhile, is trying to educate the players on the safety and benefit of the vaccine, with Dr. LeRoy Sims, the league’s VP of Medical Affairs, saying he’s already met with 20 of the 30 teams.
“I’ve tried to tackle misinformation,” Sims told ESPN. “These guys look at data all the time. I know they get the data, and appeal to them at that level.”
Given their young age and strong health, most NBA players infected with COVID-19 have brushed off the illness and returned to form. Celtics star Jayson Tatum, however, said Wednesday he’s still feeling the effects over a month after his positive test.
NBA players have been strong advocates for the Black community, which has been negatively impacted by the pandemic at a disproportionate rate. African Americans are hospitalized and dying roughly three and two times more than their representative population, according to the CDC.
The NBA has postponed 30 games this season because of COVID-19 concerns, including Saturday’s game at Madison Square Garden between the Knicks and Spurs.
Vaccine rollout in the U.S. has been slow. President Biden said Tuesday that every American should be able to get one by the end of July, but Silver reportedly told the league’s GMs he was optimistic about players being vaccinated by late March and early April. That would mean they’d be fully vaccinated for most of the playoffs.