That’s where the athletes would come in. Researchers say that prominent people getting the vaccine and urging others to get the vaccine could help overcome widespread skepticism—especially in the Black community. Polls have shown that vaccine mistrust is greatest among Black adults.
“I could envisage celebrity sports figures playing a very constructive role with vaccine hesitancy,” said Harvey Fineberg, a former dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health and former president of the Institute of Medicine. “I could imagine a campaign that enlisted professional sports. ‘Let’s get everyone back in the game’ could be one tagline. And then ‘When it’s your turn, take a shot.’ That could coincidentally get vaccines to the athletes sooner.”
Fineberg knows something about the monumental challenge of vaccinating the entire population of the United States in a few months. He co-authored the official study on the 1976 effort to allocate a vaccine in the U.S. for a feared influenza epidemic that never materialized. And he says it’s perfectly sensible to let athletes and other influencers get their shots early if that means they can serve as official ambassadors to people who are hesitant about the vaccine.