Eligible Hawks players, staff receive COVID-19 vaccine

Credit: AJC

Here's a quick game-by-game look at the Hawks' seven-game winning streak.

Credit: AJC

As of Thursday night, 36 members of the Hawks basketball operations staff had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 14 players.

Those who received the vaccine (through their partnership with Emory) meet the eligibility requirements in Georgia, which recently were expanded. The Hawks also plan to encourage others to get vaccinated once eligible.

The only three Hawks players who did not get vaccinated are not eligible to receive it yet.

In a statement the Hawks wrote: “Following (Thursday night’s) game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at State Farm Arena, 36 individuals from the Atlanta Hawks basketball operations staff, including 14 players, received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Each of the vaccinated members meet the recently-updated eligibility criteria in the state of Georgia and physicians from Emory Healthcare, the official healthcare providers for the Atlanta Hawks, administered the shots.

“Increasing access to health, wellness and play throughout the greater Atlanta community continues to be a priority for our organization. As eligibility for vaccination continues to expand, we intend to use our platform and influence to encourage and educate citizens on the importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible, especially younger adults and communities of color.”'

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In Georgia, among other states, people with certain underlying medical conditions (including asthma) can get vaccinated. People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25 are also are eligible, which would allow many players to qualify.

As the vaccine rollout continues across the country and eligibility is expanded in many states, the Hawks are the second NBA team to publicly confirm facilitating vaccines for players and basketball-operations staff. The Pelicans recently announced that many eligible members of their organization had received the first dose.

“League policy requires teams to follow their state’s vaccination guidelines and programs and we are fully supportive of players and team staff being vaccinated when they are eligible,” an NBA representative said.

The NBA introduced numerous restrictions players, staff and teams must follow this season, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are now different protocols for fully vaccinated individuals (achieved two weeks after receiving the final dose) and teams that have vaccinated 85% of players and 85% staff. The Hawks do not reach the player criteria yet as only 14 of 17 players (82.4%) have been vaccinated so far.

For example, once that 85% clip is achieved, fully vaccinated individuals won’t have to wear masks while at the practice facility, will be allowed to eat indoors or outdoors at restaurants (depending on what local ordinances allow) and there will be more flexibility to leave the hotel and eat on flights for members of the traveling party.

They also get more convenient COVID-19 testing times and can participate in in-person meetings in locations other than just on the court and large meeting rooms at the hotel.