*Several top NBA players are said to be apprehensive about participating in league-sponsored PSA’s focused on coronavirus vaccines, sources told ESPN. The NBA’s outreach to the agents of many of the league’s elite players — with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine — has been met with a tepid response, sources said.
Player apprehension about receiving the vaccine mirror fears that exist in Black communities across the country, agents and players told ESPN.
Here’s more from the outlet:
Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players’ reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game.
On a call with league general managers on Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver continued to tell top team executives that the league wouldn’t “jump the line” of the general public to get vaccines, but he suggested an optimistic timeline that included the possibility of late March and early April for the start of player vaccinations, sources said.
“In the African American community, there’s been enormously disparate impact from COVID … but now, somewhat perversely, there’s been enormous resistance [to vaccinations] in the African American community for understandable historical reasons,” Silver said recently. “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.”
Dr. Leroy Sims, the league’s senior vice president of medical affairs, told ESPN that he has completed 20 presentations to individual teams on the benefit of the vaccines.
“I’ve tried to tackle misinformation — that the development process was rushed, that the vaccine can alter genetics, that the trials lacked diversity,” Sims said. “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.
“I can tell you these guys are listening based on questions that I’m getting. They also ask: “Why should we get this when there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to see what the long-term effects are?’ These guys look at data all the time. I know they get the data, and appeal to them at that level.
“When it comes to vaccinations, any long-term (issues) with vaccinations, you historically tend to see in the first couple of months. Shots started going into people’s arms in March of last year, so we have a trove of data already and we’re continuing to gather it.
“When I talk about leadership, I reference fighting health disparities and role modeling, augmenting community service, showing our support for public health and sound medical data and science. Our players are extremely sophisticated and they see what I am asking.
“One of the elite players in the league said to me, ‘Dr. Sims, what you’re asking is for us to be spokesmen?’ My response was: Absolutely. Yes, we do want you to be spokesmen. We do want you to partner with us.
“But it’s multi-fold. Right now, they can’t get shots, but they can still show support for parents or grandparents getting their vaccines now; and when the time comes, they can show their support by speaking and telling people they’ve gotten it — or showing pictures of them getting it. There will be a tremendous benefit having some of our players coming out publicly supporting this because their actions, their words, carry weight in the community.”
The NBA playoffs are scheduled to start on May 22.