Jan 20, 2021 - Health

NBA could vaccinate players as public service announcement

Illustration of a foam syringe a la a sports foam finger

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The NBA has discussed having players receive COVID-19 vaccines to educate the public about their safety and effectiveness, commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The coronavirus has disproportionately struck Black communities, who have developed resistance towards vaccinations — and a general distrust of medical institutions — for understandable historic reasons.

By the numbers: Roughly 75% of NBA players are Black, and superstars like LeBron James (77.6 million Instagram followers) and Steph Curry (32.4 million) can reach a large swath of the population with a single social media post.

The backstory: In the early 1930s, the federal government launched the Tuskegee experiment, which denied Black men in Alabama treatment for syphilis and secretly documented how the disease destroyed their bodies, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

  • A U.S. Senate committee in 1972 heard testimony that around 2,000 poor Black women had undergone forced sterilization in previous years stemming from a eugenics-inspired policy.
  • These episodes wrecked African Americans' trust in medical institutions that continues to this day.

Go deeper: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines

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