NBA legend Bill Russell has backed the COVID-19 vaccine and officially announced that he got it in a video released by the league on Thursday. The soon-to-be 87-year-old became the third notable NBA figure to receive the coronavirus vaccine both for his health and to help the league’s efforts to promote it. Before Russell, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and former Los Angeles Lakers centre Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also took a shot of the vaccine.
In a video posted by the NBA, Bill Russell participated to encourage others to receive the coronavirus vaccine shot when they have the opportunity. The 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics and Basketball Hall of Famer made the announcement saying, "This is one shot I won't block" and "No Celtics were harmed". The 86-year-old meets the criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surrounding vaccine eligibility. The guidelines suggest that priority for receiving the vaccine should go to health care personnel, those living in long-term care facilities, front-line essential workers, those over the age of 65 and people "with underlying medical conditions'' that increase their vulnerability to COVID-19.
“I just arrived to get my COVID shot, and this is one shot I won’t block. Let’s do this together. To learn more about vaccines, visit https://t.co/WrLXSIbtxe.” – 11-time NBA Champion @RealBillRussell pic.twitter.com/nQxB3UrL0w— NBA (@NBA) February 4, 2021
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and former Los Angeles Lakers centre Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also received the COVID-19 vaccine and recorded an NBA-sanctioned PSA to urge the general public to receive one as well. However, the league has mentioned in the past via commissioner Adam Silver that it won't jump ahead in line to get the vaccines. The NBA has worked with the Ad Council and COVID-19 Prevention Network to promote the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. Silver, however, believes that if some high-profile African-Americans received the COVID-19 vaccine, there could be greater awareness.
The NBA Commissioner acknowledged that there has been resistance from the African-American communities due to historical reasons, but believes that vaccines are the only way to cure it. Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health said that leaders with large platforms such as ministers, entertainers and athletes can set an example by getting the vaccine. Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron has also received the vaccine and hopes to spread the message. However, the MLB legend passed away weeks after his vaccination.