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Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

NBA star LeBron James confirmed Tuesday that he has been vaccinated against COVID-19 as the league prepares for the start of the 2021-22 season next month.

The big picture: Over 90% of NBA players are fully vaccinated, the National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said in a statement Tuesday.

  • The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate but does have separate protocols in place for vaccinated and unvaccinated players that can serve to incentivize players to get inoculated, notes the Los Angeles Times.
  • Unvaccinated players must submit to regular testing and observe social distancing rules, per the Times.

Driving the news: Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said last week that he expects the full roster of players to be fully vaccinated by the team's opening game against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 19, per ESPN.

  • Lakers forward and eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis told reporters Tuesday that the team has already reached that goal. "I think everybody on this team is vaccinated, if I’m not mistaken," he said, the Los Angeles Times reports.
  • Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and six-time All-Star Damian Lillard both said earlier this week that they were vaccinated.
“I’ve had people in my family actually die and people actually lose their lives to it, and there’s a way for me to protect myself and the people that I love, I’m going to do it. It’s pretty simple,"
— Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard

What he's saying: "The ultimate goal is to obviously win a championship. And it starts with, obviously, health as the No. 1 thing," James said, per ESPN.

  • "I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family, and things of that nature. I know that I was very [skeptical] about it all."
  • "But after doing my research, and things of that nature, I felt like it was best suited for not only me but for my family and for my friends, and that's why I decided to do it."

Go deeper

Dec 1, 2021 - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure.

Dec 1, 2021 - Health

Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the federal government's vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: The Army National Guard must be fully vaccinated by the end of next June while the Air National Guard faces a Dec. 2 deadline. Those who fail to comply will be barred from drills and other duties, and won't be paid even when they're under state control.

Updated 23 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers — U.S. on the lookout for Omicron casesFDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns" — Two federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron — COVID-19 "radically altered mobility" globally, UN says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.