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Thybulle on not getting fully vaccinated: ‘I didn’t see any benefits outweighing what I could seek from alternative medicine’

Given the way James Harden has looked, what Matisse Thybulle means to the Sixers defensively, and the way Pascal Siakam has owned the 76ers, Michael Smith says he'd be "shocked' if the Raptors didn't win the series.

Due to his decision not to get fully vaccinated and Canada’s regulations, 76ers wing Matisse Thybulle is ineligible to play in Toronto during Philadelphia’s first-round playoff series against the Raptors.

Thybulle, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“I’m not fully vaccinated,” Thybulle said. “This was a decision I made a long time ago. I thought a lot about what I’d say here. Essentially, I made this choice and I thought I could keep it to myself, I could keep it private, but people are always going to wonder why.

“I was raised in a holistic household where ‘anti-vax’ is not a term that was ever used. It’s a weird term that has kind of been thrown around to just label people. But we grew up with Chinese medicine and naturopathic doctors. With that upbringing, coming into this situation I felt like I had a solid foundation of medical resources that could serve me beyond what this vaccine could do for me.

“As things escalated and as this situation has played out, I’ve obviously had to reconsider and look at it differently. To that point, it got to the point last year during the playoffs where I did actually consider getting vaccinated and went through with getting the first shot, the first dose. At that point, I was under the impression that getting vaccinated meant that I could not get the disease and transmit it to other people. And I felt like if I’m going to be a part of society, in the position I’m in, I need to do what’s right for the greater good. That argument of the greater good held a lot of weight for me. As things progressed, as this virus has changed many different ways, it just showed through the science that that wasn’t the case anymore — that even while being vaccinated, you could still spread the disease.

“So for me and my reasoning, it felt like getting vaccinated was not something that I needed to do to protect other people. … With that being considered and the holistic background of my upbringing — and just the way I view medicine in general — it felt like I was secure in treating myself … not treating myself, but going to the doctors that I have to treat COVID if I did get it. And in the case that I did, I was able to go about it in my holistic way, and I’m able to sit here today healthy and OK because of it.”

“One of the things my dad taught me growing up is you’re free to do whatever you want as long as you’re willing to accept the consequences of it,” Thybulle said. “Like I said, I considered deeply all the different avenues. And of course I’ve accepted that this could hurt money, contracts, reputation. But I felt like this was the right thing that I needed to do for myself.”

“That was really hard,” he said of discussions with teammates. “I made this decision a while ago where this situation I’m facing right now was not a factor. It wasn’t a part of any of the decision-making, because at the time I would be available for my team … and not restricted in any way to do my job. Having had the stance I’ve had for almost a year now, I just felt like it couldn’t be something that I could be forced to do because of rules or regulation changes. It just seemed like the right thing for me to just see it through.

What does he see as the downsides of receiving a second vaccine dose (which would wipe away those repercussions)?

“My reasoning for getting it or not getting it wasn’t really the downsides,” Thybulle said. “I just didn’t feel like it would benefit me. I didn’t see any benefits outweighing what I could seek from alternative medicine.”

One big benefit to getting fully vaccinated that alternative medicine doesn’t provide: Thybulle could have played Games 3 and 4 (and if necessary, 6) in Toronto.

Vaccinated people are less likely to contract – and therefore spread – coronavirus. Those reductions in likelihood became less pronounced as the omicron variant became predominant. But they still existed.

Perhaps Thybulle felt the reductions in likelihood weren’t significant enough to offset his inclination toward alternative medicine. That might be an understandable choice, especially if he held natural immunity from a prior coronavirus case. There’s room to debate where to draw the line on vaccine mandates, especially with coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths relatively low. The players’ union fought off a vaccine mandate from the NBA under the premise people should have some right to make their own medical decisions.

But Canada’s rules exist. Thybulle can’t pretend they don’t. So – fair or not, anticipated or not – he and his team are facing a big downside from his decision.