The COVID vaccine mandate announced by President Joe Biden earlier this month has further driven a wedge between Americans who are for the vaccine and those who continue to refuse it.
But as organizations big and small across America establish their own mandates, employees and individuals alike are speaking out about the choice to get vaccinated. One of them is NBA player Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.
"Every player, every person in this world is going to make their own decision for themselves," the 28 year old basketball star told reporters on Monday during the NBA's media day, as reported by The Blaze. He asked reporters, ""I would like an explanation to you know, people with vaccines, why are they still getting COVID?"
Beal said it was "funny" that health authorities say the COVID vaccine reduces one's chances of getting hospitalized or even dying from the coronavirus infection. But the NBA player questioned why the jab "doesn't eliminate anybody from getting COVID" and that even if a person is vaccinated, they "can still pass [the virus] along." He also posited that people must not be forced into getting the COVID vaccine.
"I don't think you can pressure anybody into doing things, or putting things in their body," Beal declared.
His statements come after reports on how the vaccine's efficacy and protection wane after several months, thus the alleged need for booster shots.
"I'm not sitting up here saying vaccines are bad, I'm not sitting up here saying this vaccine is bad. I'm not sitting up here saying that you shouldn't get it," Beal said in another interview. "It's a personal decision between every individual [and their families], that's it. And I have that personal right to keep it to myself."
Meanwhile, Orlando Magic power forward Jonathan Isaac also spoke out against those who vilify people who haven't gotten inoculated against COVID yet. According to NOQ Report, the 23 year old player clarified his stance on the vaccine, saying that he is not "anti-vax" or "anti-medicine" or "anti-science." He even added that his mother worked in the healthcare industry for "a very long time."
"I have nothing but the utmost respect for every health care worker in Orlando and all across the world that have worked tirelessly to keep us safe," Isaac said. "I thank God I live in a society where vaccines are possible and we can protect ourselves and have the means to protect ourselves in the first place."
But Isaac lamented that people like him who are hesitant to get vaccinated are "targeted with scorn, abuse within their own teams, and pressure from their vaccine-nanny fans" and even "threatened enough to the point that they walk back their statements" when they choose to speak out.
And this is particularly true for NBA players, as retired NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently blasted professional basketball players who choose to remain unvaccinated against COVID. NPR reported that for Abdul-Jabbar, "The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team."
"There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research," the NBA Hall of Famer declared. This is exactly the type of divide Isaac lamented about. For now, however, the COVID vaccine remains a non-requirement for players ahead of the 2021-22 season.