Report: Many Black NBA Players Hesitant to Participate in PSAs Promoting Coronavirus Vaccines

There is understandable hesitancy in many Black communities to jump on board with the vaccine

Report: Many Black NBA Players Hesitant to Participate in PSAs Promoting Coronavirus Vaccines
A detailed view of the NBA logo prior to a game.
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Thanks to a mistrust of mainstream American medicine that at least partially draws its roots to the syphilis research that was carried out on Black men at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama long after effective treatments for the disease became available, many Black Americans are hesitant about getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

That feeling appears to be shared by many of the top players in the NBA, the majority of whom are Black.

Though Black NBA legends Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have gotten the coronavirus vaccine and promoted receiving their shots, many of the league’s current players have resisted taking part in PSAs promoting the vaccine, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Requests from the NBA to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to some of the league’s elite players have met with “a tepid response,” sources told Wojnarowski.

“Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN,” he writes. “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.” (Despite many players speaking out against it, the league has officially scheduled the All-Star Game for March 7.)

According to a recent survey by the COVID Collaborative, fewer than half of Black adults said they would definitely or probably get a coronavirus vaccine if it was free and just 18 percent said they would definitely get vaccinated regardless of the cost. Among Latino adults, 66 percent said they would get free vaccines and 31 percent said they would definitely get vaccinated no matter the cost. As for having faith in the medical community, only 14 percent of Black adults and 34 percent of Latinos said they trust vaccine safety.

“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,” NBA commissioner Adam 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.”

Hopefully Silver and the NBA’s medical experts can sell the league’s top players on that notion.

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