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Player, agent say most NBA players reluctant about coronavirus vaccine

Former Lakers center Dwight Howard (now with the 76ers) and Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Sep 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (39) and Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) reach for the ball during the second quarter in game one of the Western Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

76ers center Dwight Howard and Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. have raised doubt about the value of vaccines.

They’re hardly alone within the NBA.

That’s a MAJOR issue amid the coronavirus pandemic. Getting vaccinated is the best way for NBA players to protect themselves and those around them, end strict protocols and keep the league’s revenue flowing with fewer interruptions.

Sam Amick, Joe Vardon and David Aldridge of The Athletic:

“I want the shot as soon as possible,” one player said, “but that’s definitely the dissenting point of view in the NBA.”
One player agent said that “at least half, if not more” of the league’s players are reluctant to take the vaccine

NBA senior vice president of medical affairs Dr. Leroy Sims is educating teams on the coronavirus vaccine. That’s great and important.

There is understandable skepticism, especially among Black people. Government health officials have a long history of misleading on these issues – from the Tuskegee experiment to present day.

But coronavirus vaccines, according to every credible doctor and scientist to evaluate them, are safe and effective.

Thankfully, people have expressed more willingness to get vaccinated as their ability to actually get the shot approaches. Unfortunately, we have significant shortages of doses. NBA players – young and generally healthy – are not among the high-priority groups.

Sims’ communication will also help.

But it likely won’t assuage every player’s doubts, not if a majority are skeptical. Which is yet another reason – beyond age, health, natural immunity – NBA players shouldn’t be moved to the front of the line in order to generate positive publicity for the vaccine. They might not be the best messengers for that cause.

Besides, right now the far bigger problem is vaccine availability, not willingness to take it.