NBA: Eligible Members of New Orleans Pelicans Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Members of the New Orleans Pelicans received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday. The team announced the news and confirmed that the list included multiple players. The vaccinations occurred after Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards expanded eligibility for the vaccine.

According to ESPN, the new eligibility requirements allow anyone 16 years or older with a health condition that could result in a higher risk of disease to get the vaccine. There were 12 conditions to determine eligibility, including conditions such as asthma, hypertension, and Type 1 diabetes. Additionally, one condition is being overweight, defined as having a body mass index of over 25. Certain players on the Pelicans meet this condition.

"The three COVID vaccines we have are safe and effective and everyone who qualifies should get the shot as soon as they can," said Christina Edwards, deputy chief of staff for communications for Gov. Edwards, per ESPN. "People, like members of the Pelicans, can consult with their doctors about if they might qualify because of their health conditions."

While several members of the Pelicans were eligible to get the vaccine, not all chose to do so. Though a few players publicly acknowledged that they had gotten the shot. For example, Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli tweeted that he had received the vaccine and was excited to get the second dose.

The league addressed the players receiving the vaccine and released a statement. "League policy requires teams to follow their state's vaccination guidelines and programs and we are fully supportive of players and team staff being vaccinated when they are eligible," a spokesperson said.

With members of the Pelicans getting the vaccine, there are questions about how the league will adjust its rules regarding mandatory quarantine. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that players who came into close contact with someone that tested positive could avoid having to go into quarantine if they had received the vaccine.

"In addition, right now as we operate under this so-called work quarantine protocol, where players are largely only going between their homes and the arenas, once they get vaccinated, they'll be able to do more in their communities," Silver said. "That's something we've already begun talking to the Players Association about.

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"So there will be some real advantages and benefits to getting vaccinated for the players. Again, they have to make personal decisions at the end of the day. I take that very seriously. I take concerns very seriously. But my sense is most will ultimately decide that it's in their interest to get vaccinated."