The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Sunday that "multiple" eligible players and staff members received the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday due to the expansion of Louisiana's vaccine guidelines.
In a statement released to the New Orleans Advocate, the Pelicans encouraged everyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine, but did not reveal the names of any players or staff members who received it.
“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," the Pelicans said in a statement. "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. More information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found at https://ldh.la.gov/covidvaccine/
"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 our community in an effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
How were Pelicans players eligible for the vaccine?
Every state has been defining its own high-risk categories for vaccine eligibility, and in Louisiana one of the high-risk conditions is being overweight (body mass index of 25 and higher) or obese (body mass index of 30 or higher). ESPN pointed out that numerous NBA players would be eligible under the overweight or obese categories even though they're professional athletes. Since muscle weighs more than fat, an NBA player could have a BMI over 30 due to their developed muscles.
Other eligible conditions include Type I diabetes, hypertension, cancer and diseases which suppress the immune system.
While the Pelicans didn't announce the names of any players who elected to receive the vaccine, Sindarius Thornwell announced on Twitter that he was one of the players receiving the vaccine on Saturday.
Thornwell is the first NBA player to publicly announce that he's getting the vaccine.
Mavericks could be next
Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported on Sunday that the Dallas Mavericks could be the next team to vaccinate some of their players and staff.
Texas, which currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, has eligibility guidelines that are similar to Louisiana. Anyone 16 or older with a high-risk medical condition can receive the vaccine, and obesity is one of them.
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