On Andrew Wiggins, choice and the power of vaccine mandates


Andrew Wiggins still doesn't get it, but he got it.

The second part is more important than the first as we enter a new phase of the discussion about COVID vaccines.

Wiggins, the former Timberwolves wing who was traded to the Warriors in 2020, was faced with a choice: Get the vaccine or lose millions of dollars as the result of not being able to play home games for Golden State.

He chose the money and his livelihood.

"The only options were to get vaccinated or not play in the NBA," Wiggins told reporters on Monday. "It was a tough decision. Hopefully, it works out in the long run and in 10 years I'm still healthy."

Wiggins' comments throughout the session still contained heavy doses of misunderstanding about the vaccine. It's natural to be skeptical of something new, but it is also important to trust science.

The data says vaccines are safe — and getting them far outweighs any negative consequences of the shot and more importantly of getting/spreading COVID.

"I feel like I could go on for days about why I didn't want to get it," said Wiggins, who got the one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said he's the only member of his family to get the vaccine. "Most importantly, I don't know what's going to happen or what it's going to do to my body in 10, 20 years. ... But I guess it's something that had to get done."

He urged others to "keep fighting" against getting the vaccine.

Personal liberty is a foundational element of the United States. But when it spills over into areas of public good, rules are made. That's why we have stoplights. That's why we can't just choose not to pay taxes. And that's why countless other vaccines are a good idea.

Wiggins' situation underscores why vaccine mandates are important. They shouldn't be arbitrarily imposed. But they are the path to actually getting COVID under control.

Many players got vaccinated willingly. Some like Karl-Anthony Towns, whose life was forever altered by COVID, are advocates. For the rest? There's a rule, and it's working.

It is playing out in the NBA, where the vaccination rate is above 95% — a mark that would do wonders in larger society. It is playing out in middle class America, too, where 96% of NYC public school employees are vaccinated as a result of a mandate.

Wiggins got his shot reluctantly. It would be nice if he had changed his mind instead of just his body, but in the end it doesn't really matter.

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