The NBA has so far been unable to find a solution to its ongoing health and safety issues as a result of COVID-19. We’re less than a month into the season, but 15 games have already been postponed. More will almost certainly follow, and until players are vaccinated, there doesn’t appear to be a likely end in sight to the league’s battle against the pandemic.
At the moment, NBA players are largely ineligible to get vaccinated, though. While each state is handling the vaccination process differently, most are prioritizing the elderly and frontline workers who need the vaccine most. That would seemingly force young and healthy NBA players to wait quite some time before receiving their own vaccinations, but according to Adam Silver, the NBA is considering a workaround.
In a virtual conference hosted by Sportico, Silver suggested that NBA players could get vaccinated as a sort of public service announcement to those who are hesitant that it is safe to do so, saying “there would be a real public health benefit to getting some very high profile African Americans vaccinated.”
“It’s something we’re particularly focused on,” Silver said, as transcribed by Sports Illustrated. “In the African American community, there’s been an 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”
“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.”
Silver added that players would only be vaccinated early if “public health officials determine on balance it was the right time,” for now, it is not imminent. The league revamped its COVID protocols last week, but games continued to be postponed. Vaccines would likely alleviate the league’s issues if enough of its players could jump to the front of the line, but given the enormous number of high-risk individuals likely ahead of them from a public health perspective, players receiving the vaccine any time soon does not appear particularly likely.