Apr 19, 2021 - Health

Obama, Shaq and Barkley urge communities of color to get COVID vaccine

A screenshot of former NBA stars Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley and former President Obama on the NBC special.

A screenshot of former NBA stars Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley and former President Obama on the NBC special. Photo: NBC

Former President Obama and NBA greats Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal joined forces to urge communities of color and young people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 during an NBC special on inoculations, broadcast Sunday.

Why it matters: People of color have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Obama noted during the broadcast that with underlying, pre-existing health conditions being more prevalent in communities of color "we're more vulnerable" to the virus.

"As the vaccine becomes more available, I want to make sure that our communities, particularly ones, African American, Latino, as well as young people understand that this will save lives and allow people to get their lives back to normal, and the sooner we get more people vaccinated, the better off we're gonna be."
— Obama

Zoom in: The former president also noted that a lot of young people think that if they get the coronavirus" it's going to be like a bad cold."

  • "Part of what we're seeing now is there's a different strain of the virus that’s come over," he added, in reference to B.1.1.7, the variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom.
  • "That's now the dominant variant, and it’s actually hitting young people harder than the original version."
"Part of the reason to get vaccinated is because it makes everybody safer. And it's the same reason why ... we don’t have things like polio anymore. Measles used to kill people all the time. The reason we don’t see that is because kids get the vaccine before they even go to school."
— Obama

Of note: During the NBC special, "Roll up your sleeves," President Biden noted that the U.S. was making "tremendous progress," but "we're still in the race against this virus, and we need to vaccinate tens of millions of more American."

  • And actor Matthew McConaughey asked Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, some "burning questions" on the pandemic:
Go deeper