Pelicans say some players, staff received COVID-19 vaccine

New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy watches the team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in New Orleans, Friday, March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy watches the team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in New Orleans, Friday, March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Some players and other members of the New Orleans Pelicans organization have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccinations, following changes in the eligibility standards for Louisiana residents.

The Pelicans said the vaccines were administered Saturday, though they did not disclose who got them. They are the first NBA team to acknowledge a widescale receipt of the vaccine by members of a club.

The team said it was supporting “the state's vital efforts" to encourage residents to get vaccinated, and Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said he'd like his team to be an example.

“In my opinion, the more people we can encourage to get vaccinated, the better off all of us are going to be," Van Gundy said. “It seems to me it's really our only way to get past this whole experience with COVID and be able to open up more and to keep people safe."

State officials in Louisiana expanded the list of those who may receive the vaccine last week “to include people who have health conditions that may result in a higher risk of disease” and are over the age of 18. Among the higher risk groups: those with a body mass index of 25 or more, which would technically classify them as overweight.

Many of the Pelicans’ players fall into that category, despite being NBA players and elite athletes.

“I’m getting the vaccine shot tomorrow... ya boy kinda nervous,” Pelicans guard Sindarius Thornwell tweeted.

Thornwell is listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, which would give him a BMI of 26.2 — and therefore make him eligible for the vaccine, even though he is in outstanding physical condition.