NBA vaccination rate climbing, now to 95%

MIAMI (AP) — The NBA has seen a rise in vaccination rates in recent days when factoring in those players who have received at least one of the necessary shots, a person with direct knowledge of the situation said Thursday.

The leaguewide rate is now around 95% when counting those who are now at least in the vaccination process, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the NBA nor the National Basketball Players Association released the figure publicly.

Based on a rough count of nearly 600 players in the league right now for training camps — that figure will be closer to 500 when the regular season begins Oct. 19 and rosters get trimmed — the 95% figure would suggest that, on average, one player per team is unvaccinated.

ESPN first reported the 95% figure. Earlier in the week, AP reported that the leaguewide rate entering the week was 90% and climbing.

The NBA gave teams tentative health and safety protocols for the season Tuesday, detailing how players who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccination will be tested far more often than their vaccinated colleagues and face a slew of other restrictions.

Among the rules for unvaccinated players: They will not be able to eat in the same room with vaccinated teammates or staff, must have lockers as far away from vaccinated players as possible, and must stay masked and at least 6 feet away from all other attendees in any team meeting.

Further, unvaccinated players will be “required to remain at their residence when in their home market,” teams were told in the draft of the rules, a copy of which was obtained by AP. They will also need to stay on team hotel properties when on the road. In both cases, there are limited permissible exceptions — such as going to buy groceries, taking children to school and the like.

Nearly half of the league’s teams have said in recent days that they are already fully vaccinated or on the cusp of hitting that threshold. Other players, such as Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins and Washington’s Bradley Beal, have said they remain unvaccinated.

Phoenix’s Devin Booker — who has missed the start of camp after testing positive for COVID-19 — has not disclosed his vaccination status. Neither has Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, though not appearing in person at Nets media day in New York on Monday would suggest that he is unvaccinated.

Local laws in San Francisco and New York mean that players for the Warriors, Nets and New York Knicks will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to play home games. And if players like Wiggins or Irving are unable to play at home because of their vaccination status, they will not be paid for those games, the NBA said earlier this week.

The first preseason game of the season is Sunday when the Nets visit the Los Angeles Lakers.

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