NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Basketball Hall said it supports teams and players who use their platforms to promote Covid-19 vaccinations.
The former National Basketball Association star joined CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Monday and discussed vaccination. Abdul-Jabbar announced that he received his vaccination shots this month and that the league should raise awareness to slow down Covid-19 infections.
“From what I’ve seen, the vaccination is much less bad than the virus,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “So we have to vaccinate as many people as possible. And I hope that every effort in this direction will be fruitful.”
President Joe Biden is committed to delivering 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots within his first 100 days. Abdul-Jabbar mentioned the importance of the black community to get vaccinated, but acknowledged the story of the Tuskegee experiment for suspicion of vaccination among blacks.
The event dates back to 1932 in Tuskegee, Alabama, when black men were given placebos to treat syphilis. In 1972 the Associated Press reported that the federal government allowed men to go untreated for over 40 years because penicillin was found to be the treatment for the disease in 1947.
“That put a terrible strain on the problem of trust with the black community,” said Abdul-Jabbar of the experiment. “We have to overcome that, and we have to overcome this moment. The more people that can come on board with the promotion of vaccinations, the more this will definitely change and put this in a positive light.”
In a poll conducted by Pew Research in November, only 42% of blacks polled said they were planning to get a vaccination, compared with more than 60% of Americans overall.
The NBA released its latest Covid-19 report on January 20, which tested 11 new players positive. Abdul-Jabbar urged players to make public announcements about vaccinations. When asked whether athletes should have special access to vaccinations, Abdul-Jabbar said no.
“I don’t think you can get people out of line, so to speak, so that sports stars come out on top,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “But anyone with a following in our country can do a great job of getting people to understand that they need to be vaccinated ASAP. And I don’t think there is a problem with that.”