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NBA warns teams about obtaining, administering COVID-19 vaccine early

"It goes without saying that in no form or way will we jump the line." -- NBA commissioner

 James Harden of the Houston Rockets
James Harden of the Houston Rockets
Getty Images
Updated: December 25, 2020 - 11:05pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook


The National Basketball Association has warned teams that they are forbidden from obtaining and administering COVID-19 vaccines before others who need it more, like health care workers and senior citizens.

According to a memo obtained by ESPN, the NBA will allow exceptions for team physicians and health-related personnel, as well as older staff members or those with health conditions.

Earlier in the week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA would not "jump the line" to get the vaccine.

"It goes without saying that in no form or way will we jump the line," Silver said on a conference call with reporters on Monday. "We will wait our turn to get the vaccine. When you think about the logistical feat that now the federal and state governments are undertaking, where if every citizen ultimately requires two doses and with a population of over 300 million, it's beyond comprehension when you start to begin to think about the logistical challenges of transporting and distributing this vaccine."

Pfizer's vaccine, the first in the U.S., was approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11. That vaccine is already being distributed and put into use. The FDA on Dec. 18 also approved Moderna's EUA request. 

Moderna said its data showed their vaccine was 95% effective in its late-stage clinical trial, the same as Pfizer's. The Moderna vaccine was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.

A key advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is that it does not need sub-zero storage like Pfizer’s, which needs to be stored at -94 degrees.

A third vaccine is also in the pipeline. AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Nov. 23 said their jointly created COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be up to 90% effective and the makers claims will be easier to distribute.

A firestorm exploded this week on Capitol Hill, when some younger lawmakers jumped the line to receive vaccine shots.

Rep. Ilhan Omar blasted a fellow member of "The Squad," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, for getting the vaccine before those most vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s now clear that we don’t have enough vaccines for everyone and there is shortage of supply, we have to prioritize those who need it most,” Omar wrote on Twitter on Sunday. "That’s why it’s disturbing to see members be 1st to get vaccine while most frontline workers, elderly and infirm in our districts, wait," she added.

Ocasio-Cortez posted a video of herself receiving the vaccine on Instagram on Friday, and older lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 81, who is third in the line of succession to the presidency, have received the shot, too. But in a follow-up tweet, Omar said it was “shameful” that lawmakers were receiving the vaccine based on their perceived importance.

“It would makes sense if it was age, but unfortunately it’s of importance and its shameful,” she wrote.

“We are not more important then frontline workers, teachers etc. who are making sacrifices everyday. Which is why I won’t take it. People who need it most, should get it. Full stop," she added.


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