Vaccinations have saved countless lives. The number of measles-related deaths alone decreased as much as 79% between 2000 and 2014, from 546,800 to 114,900. When people think of the National Basketball Association, they don’t often think of measles, vaccinations, and healthcare — but a deeper dive shows they are interconnected.
In 2019, the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the most popular and exciting teams to watch, had to deal with a pretty serious situation. According to NBC News, fans who attended the Moda Center could have been exposed to measles. At the time, officials in nearby counties Vancouver, Clark, and Washington stated the number of confirmed measles cases reached 23.
A person known to be contagious with the disease in neighboring Multnomah County attended a Trail Blazers’ game at the Moda Center in Portland, potentially exposing other fans to the viral infection.
Luckily, people who are vaccinated against measles have very little risk of becoming infected, since the vaccine provides approximately 95% protection. On the contrary, this disease will infect 90% of unimmunized people who come in contact with the infectious virus.
“The measles vaccine is so effective,” said Tri-County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis. “But, this is a good reminder that when you feel sick — even if it’s just a cold — it’s best to stay home to avoid making others ill.”
It’s important to note that the worst year for the U.S. in terms of measles outbreaks was 2014 when there were 667 cases.
Over the years, the NBA has attempted to spread awareness on the importance of adolescent vaccination. According to Drug Store News, NBA Cares hired NBA veterans Grant Hill and Jonas Jerebko to speak to teens in both Michigan and Arizona.
Jonas Jerebko was selected with the 39th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, becoming the second Swedish-born basketball player to be selected in the NBA draft. Grant Hill, a 7-time all-star, is the co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks and was the third overall pick in the 1994 draft (also drafted by the Pistons).
“Vaccination can help teens grow into healthy adults, and is beneficial for the students at Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac and for teens throughout the Metro Detroit area,” said Jerebko.
“In basketball, the best offense is a good defense, and the same holds true for protecting teen health,” said Hill.