NBA Players Are Brushing Off League’s Request To Promote COVID-19 Vaccine: Report
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 15: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media during a press conference at the United Center on February 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Top players in the NBA are reportedly skeptical about filming public service announcements encouraging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Players are pushing back against the league’s invitation to participate in PSAs over skepticism of the vaccine, reluctance to encourage others to take it, and anger over the league’s plans to attempt an all-star game amid the pandemic, according to ESPN. As the outlet reported:

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 apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.

The NBA has put out vaccine ads featuring Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and hopes to get a number of other top players involved with the campaign, particularly to encourage vaccination among black Americans. At a press conference last month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver pushed the idea that black players participating in the vaccination campaign might tamp down black Americans’ skepticism about coronavirus vaccines.

“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. “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.”

“Several public health officials – and this is operating state by state right now – have suggested there would be a real public health benefit to getting some very high-profile African Americans vaccinated to demonstrate to the larger community that it is safe and effective,” he continued. “At the appropriate time, whenever that is and whether that’s directed federally by NIH or CDC or ultimately state-by-state programs, we think there’s real value in our players demonstrating to a broader community how important it is to get vaccinated.”

Vaccines are a growing point of contention for the White House and the public as the Biden administration recommends that temporary protective measures such as masking and social distancing be continued even after vaccination. Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that just getting the vaccine does not mean Americans can relax certain coronavirus protocols.

“What we are also trying to do is make our health and medical experts available to ensure people understand – and I’ll reiterate it here today – it’s not just a vaccine,” Psaki said. “It’s obviously an incredible medical breakthrough and we want every American to have one, but even after you’re vaccinated, social distancing [and] wearing masks is going to be essential and we’ll need to continue communicating about that through health and medical experts.”

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