Obama, Shaq and Barkley record PSA encouraging Americans to get vaccine

“And look, if the wealthy and powerful in our society are all lining up to get shots," said Obama, "that means everybody should know it’s a good thing to get.”

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Former President Barack Obama enlisted a couple of famous former athletes to promote the COVID-19 vaccine.

NBA vets Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley sat down with the former president via a video call on Sunday to urge Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Read More: Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

Before Obama came on-screen, O’Neal received a Facetime call from his mother, Lucille O’Neal. Her son revealed that he and Barkley are gearing up for a chat with Obama as he flashes the iPhone toward the computer screen. Lucille tells both men she loves them and says she was just checking in. She ends the call by telling her son she is proud of him.

Obama comes on screen after the two athletes have been on chatting for a brief moment. While waiting, Barkley observed that Obama has a plethora of books on his bookshelf behind him. He and O’Neal, in fun, laugh and say Obama has probably read most of those books; meanwhile, their bookshelves are just for show.

Shaquille O’Neal, Barack Obama and Charles Barkley speak on the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: theGrio collage

“Listen, I appreciate you guys doing this,” Obama said. “You know, part of our goal here is to make sure that everybody who’s been going through so much in COVID understands the need and urgency of our communities getting vaccinated.”

He added the vaccine will: “allow people to get their lives back to normal, and the sooner we get more people vaccinated, the better off we’re gonna be.”

Read More: Zimbabwe frees some inmates to reduce COVID-19 risk in jails

Barkley said he is slated to receive his second dose of the vaccine this week. Meanwhile, O’Neal said his family, including himself, have all been vaccinated. O’Neal then reveals the demographic he is genuinely concerned about when it comes to receiving the shot.

“But I’m not worried about me or my family,” said O’Neal, “I’m worried about the average mom and dad.”

Barkley adds that people should forget about the past when it comes to the stigma surrounding vaccinations.

Obama speaks on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study which started back in 1932 when the government failed to treat poor Black men with syphilis. Many of them died and passed the disease on to their wives and children. Examples like this and others have caused mistrust between the Black community and modern medicine.

“It wasn’t that they made them sick by giving them medicine it’s that they didn’t give them the medicine they needed…If the medicine is available we need to take it,” said Obama.  

Obama adds that the men are setting a great example to the American family about the importance of being vaccinated.

“And look, if the wealthy and powerful in our society are all lining up to get shots,” said Obama, “that means everybody should know it’s a good thing to get.”

Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Barack Obama discuss the important of receiving the COVID vaccine. Photo: attn screen shot

As theGrio previously reported, the CEO of Pfizer says the COVID-19 vaccine may be required annually.

Based on a study conducted on 12,000 vaccinated participants, the vaccine is 91% effective against the coronavirus. It is 95% effective against preventing severe disease for about six months after both doses are received. But experts admit that new strains are a “challenge” and they do not have all the answers surrounding the vaccine.

“We don’t know everything at this moment,” said David Kessler to the Coronavirus Crisis House Select Subcommittee.

“We are studying the durability of the antibody response,” he added. “It seems strong but there is some waning of that and no doubt the variants challenge … they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.2% of Americans have been fully vaccinated.

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