Some New Orleans Pelicans players receive COVID-19 vaccine

Some members of the New Orleans Pelicans received the COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, making them the first NBA team to publicly acknowledge they’ve had players who got the shot.

The Pelicans said individuals within the organization who met Louisiana’s newly expanded eligibility requirements received the vaccine on Saturday.  They did not disclose how many players or staff members took the shot. 

“The Pelicans support the state’s vital efforts to encourage everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as large-scale vaccination of our community is the best way to keep everyone safe and to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” the team said in a statement to CBS News. 

The team also said the Pelicans would work with their local health provider to create public service announcements and educational programming to raise awareness about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. 

Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy said Sunday that “we weren’t going to jump the line, but we would look for our opportunities to get in.” He said he wants his team to be an example and encourage residents to get vaccinated. 

“In my opinion, the more people we can encourage to get vaccinated, the better off all of us are going to be,” Van Gundy said. “It seems to me it’s really our only way to get past this whole experience with COVID and be able to open up more and to keep people safe.”

State officials in Louisiana expanded the list of those who may receive the vaccine last week “to include people who have health conditions that may result in a higher risk of disease” and are over the age of 18. Among the higher risk groups include people with a body mass index of 25 or more.

Thornwell, a guard on the Pelicans, tweeted about getting vaccinated, admitting he was “kinda nervous.” 

Melli, who hails from Italy where the virus devastated the country, said on Twitter that he grateful to have gotten the vaccine. 

“I got the first Covid vaccine shot yesterday. I feel lucky that I had this opportunity. Can’t wait to get second shot in three weeks. If you can, get it,” he wrote.

I got the first Covid vaccine shot yesterday. I feel lucky that I had this opportunity. Can’t wait to get second shot in three weeks.
If you can, get it. #vaccine

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on March 6 that the league won’t require players to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but he believes most will anyway. 

“My hunch is that most players ultimately will choose to get vaccinated,” Silver said. “They have to make personal decisions at the end of the day — and I take that very seriously, and I take concerns very seriously. But my sense is most [players] will, ultimately, decide it is in their interest to get vaccinated.”

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