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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

Oct 14, 2021 - Health

FDA panel unanimously endorses Moderna boosters for certain populations

A pharmacist prepares to give a COVID-19 booster vaccination. Photo: Karwai Tang/Getty Images

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Thursday endorsed boosters for Moderna recipients who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, occupational exposure to COVID-19 or are 65 years and older.

Why it matters: The unanimous decision mirrors the FDA conditions for those who qualify for a Pfizer booster.

19 hours ago - Health

UnitedHealth thinks the worst of COVID may be over

Expand chart
Data: Company filings; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

UnitedHealth Group raised its profit projections for the rest of 2021 even though the insurer covered 60,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations during the third quarter, a number that was "meaningfully above the second quarter," executives said Thursday.

Why it matters: Health insurers expected to incur higher COVID costs in the quarter after the Delta variant ran rampant over the summer, especially in states with low vaccination rates. But UnitedHealth's COVID costs fell in line with its projections and were offset by some providers delaying care again.

U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers on Nov. 8

People wait in line to receive information on their flights at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Oct. 12, 2021. Photo: Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The White House will announce Friday plans to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers beginning Nov. 8, a White House official said.

Why it matters: The move will allow vaccinated travelers from most countries to visit the U.S. for the first time in more than 18 months.