The league expected to enlist some of its biggest names for a new coronavirus vaccine PSA, but sources told ESPN that many NBA stars are reluctant to participate.
Lakers’ Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Spurs coach Greg Popovich have already done PSAs for the league, but the NBA hoped several top players would join the effort to reach the Black and Brown communities, which the virus has disproportionately impacted.
“Among the groups that are reluctant to be vaccinated: African-Americans and adults under age 35. Other groups have increasingly embraced the idea of being vaccinated,” Jabbar wrote in his recent op-ed for The New York Times.
Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged the impact the virus has had on the Black community, but many are suspicious of getting vaccinated, “there’s been enormous resistance [to vaccinations] in the African American community for understandable historical reasons. If that resistance continues, it would be very much a double whammy to the Black community because the only way out of this pandemic is to get vaccinated,” said Silver.
Dr. Leroy Sims, NBA senior vice president of medical affairs, has worked with 20 teams to educate players on the vaccine using the scientific data available and expects to finish all 30 teams by Monday.
“I’ve tried to tackle misinformation; that the development process was rushed, that the vaccine can alter genetics, that the trials lacked diversity. I get the question of ‘If I get this shot, is it going to impact my performance?’ I walked them through what the results were, about the different types of vaccine, and I conclude with the benefits of the vaccination,” Sims told ESPN’s, Adrian Wojnarowski.
Silver has said the league would not try to jump to the front of the line for vaccines.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told CNN he now expects vaccines to be available for those outside of the top priority groups by mid- to late May or early June.