Andrew Wiggins carries an EpiPen, not because he wants to use it but because he fears he might have to. And if he does, it would not be the first time.
This revelation, made Monday night, sheds light on Wiggins’ reasons for avoiding COVID-19 vaccination that he ultimately, despite deep reservations that remain, allowed into his body. He did not change his mind about vaccines.
He took one anyway.
“I feel like the only option was to get vaccinated, or not play in the NBA,” Wiggins said Monday night after the Warriors posted a 121-107 preseason victory over the Trail Blazers at Moda Center in Portland.
Wiggins remains spiritually uncomfortable about all vaccines but ultimately opted to take this one for the most basic of reasons. He wants to keep playing, and it’s the only way he can receive every cent of a contract worth roughly $31.6 million this season.
“It feels good to play,” he said. “But getting vaccinated, that’s going to be something that stays in my mind for a long time. It’s not something I wanted to do. But was kind of forced.”
Now early into the two-week incubation phase, Wiggins ultimately decided to get a shot not because he trusts the science but because he’s unwilling to sacrifice half his salary over a matter of principle.
The vaccines are, to Wiggins, unwanted medicines, hastily tested, from untrustworthy sources.
“I don’t know what it’s going to do to me in 10 years,” Wiggins said. “Gene damage? There’s studies on whether or not it’s going to cause cancerous cells. I don’t know what it’s going to do to my body. There’s a lot of stuff. I can go on for days about why I didn’t want to get it. Most importantly, it’s just that I don’t know what is going to happen, or what it’s going to do to my body in 10, 15 or 20 years, or do to my kids, future kids.
“But it’s something that had to get done.”
Wiggins had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 13 to enter Chase Center for games and practices. That’s the mandate issued by the city and county of San Francisco, which during this global pandemic has been one of most aggressive -- and successful -- regions at slowing the spread, reducing death rates and maintaining appropriate space in its hospital intensive-care units.
Wiggins knows the statistics. He knows that more than 700,000 Americans have died as a result of contracting COVID-19 over the past two years.
He also firmly believes the vaccination decision should be left to the individual, regardless of the proof that that COVID is easily transmissible, with a pattern of inflicting its most acute symptoms on those who are not vaccinated. Regardless of the science which states the quickest, safest way for the planet to pull out of the pandemic is through vaccines.
“To do certain stuff, to work, you don’t own your body,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. If you want to work in society today, then I guess they make the rules about what goes in your body and what you do.”
Wiggins, 26, said he has experienced COVID, and that it “wasn’t too bad.” Millions around the world might be lucky enough to say the same. Millions more, however, no longer have the beating hearts and functional brains required to express their relief of survival.
Wiggins indicated that his previous bout with an allergic reaction to medication -- the reason for the EpiPen -- might have influenced his hesitancy but was not the foremost factor. He simply is more comfortable with the idea of controlling what enters his body.
Until dollars and lifestyle intervened, their persuasion taking the fight out of him.
“Hopefully, there’s a lot of people out there that are stronger than me and keep fighting and standing for what they believe,” he said. “And, hopefully, it works out for them.”