As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout becomes more widespread across the country, the NBA will be in a position to slowly get back to normalcy if players choose to get vaccinated. A small step toward that normalcy was reached Saturday, as several eligible members within the New Orleans Pelicans organization, including some players, got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez.
The Pelicans were able to receive their vaccination through a partnership with a local hospital, and in accordance with the Louisiana vaccine rollout plan. Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards expanded eligibility on Tuesday, which now allows anyone over 16 with a health condition to receive the vaccine. Some of the health conditions include anyone who has a body mass index above 25 -- which is applicable to some NBA players -- those who have asthma, hypertension and Type 1 diabetes.
In a statement, the Pelicans discussed their plan to continue to raise awareness about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine:
"On March 9th, the State of Louisiana expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to include people 18 years of age or older (16 years or older for the Pfizer vaccine) who meet certain health criteria that may result in a higher risk of disease. Yesterday, individuals within the New Orleans Pelicans organization who met the state health department's eligibility requirements received the vaccine.
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 Pelicans and Ochsner Health will continue to team up to create PSAs and educational programming to raise awareness about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and to highlight the power of large-scale vaccination in an effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic."
While majority of the players on the Pelicans who were eligible to receive their first shot got one, not every player did, per Lopez. Guard Sindarius Thornwell was the first player to publicly acknowledge that he got the vaccine after posting about it on Twitter the night before.
I’m getting the vaccine shot tomorrow... ya boy kinda nervous 😂😂— sindarius thornwell (@Sin_City_803) March 13, 2021
As state and local guidelines begin to allow more people to receive the vaccine, more players and team members across the league will be able to get vaccinated. The league has been trying to positively promote the vaccine among players who have expressed hesitancy.
In his press conference leading up to the All-Star Game, commissioner Adam Silver mentioned that the league won't make it a requirement for every player to get vaccinated. However, those who do choose to get vaccinated would be able to avoid quarantining if someone on the team tests positive.