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LeBron James noncommittal about getting COVID-19 vaccine

LeBron James kept his personal matters private when asked about the COVID-19 vaccine.

LeBron James is never shy about offering his opinion on social issues, and 95 percent of the time, he’s right on the money.

When asked about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday ahead of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, however, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar preferred to keep his personal affairs close to the chest.

“That’s a conversation that my family and I will have and pretty much kind of keep that to a private thing,” James responded when asked if he’d be receiving the vaccine once he’s eligible.

LeBron James politely dodges vaccination question

While it’s understandable that LeBron James would rather avoid that hornets nest of a question, there’s no denying this was a huge missed opportunity to encourage a large audience of people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once they’re able to do so. There is a ton of misinformation out there about the “dangers” of the vaccine, but the truth is, life won’t go back to normal until we’ve reached herd immunity, with a significant enough percentage of the population having received the vaccine.

There’s a conversation to be had about the general sense of mistrust in government-endorsed treatments (and any potential mandate that comes attached from employers, no matter one’s profession), especially among the African-American community, but this vaccine will literally save thousands of lives once it’s properly distributed. Keeping one’s personal affairs private is one thing, but as someone who prides himself on using his platform to promote positive change, this was another opportunity for LeBron to do so. Even if a response affirming he would receive the vaccine only encouraged one person to get vaccinated, it would’ve be worth it. Instead, a response like that suggests to some skeptics that the vaccine is unsafe or that people should be hesitant to receive it.

People shouldn’t be listening to sports stars or celebrities on matters of public health and safety; that’s what the medical professionals are there for. But the sad truth of the matter is people do take those opinions into account, and someone with such a large platform like LeBron James has an undeniable influence on that broader conversation.

Ultimately, the NBA will not force its players to get vaccinated, and this will be chalked up to a personal decision, but until this vaccine is widely distributed, routine COVID-19 tests, outbreaks and limited-capacity crowds will continue to dominate the league’s proceedings. With several other past, prominent NBA stars like Bill Russell publicly volunteering to receive the vaccine to help educate others on its importance, hopefully the league’s current stars will follow suit when they have their chance.