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Charles Barkley said that professional athletes should get the COVID-19 vaccine early because of the amount they pay in taxes.
Barkley said the millions athletes pay in taxes should allow them to get "preferential treatment."
There has been debate about whether professional athletes getting the vaccine early would encourage the public that the vaccines are safe, but leagues like the NBA and NFL have said they won't skip the line.
Charles Barkley believes professional athletes should receive the COVID-19 vaccine early because of the taxes they pay.
"I think they should let the NBA players and coaches all get the vaccine. That's just my personal opinion," Barkley said Thursday on TNT's "Inside the NBA."
When Barkley received pushback from host Ernie Johnson and co-host Kenny Smith, Barkley said all pro athletes should get it because they pay more taxes than most people.
"We need 300 million shots. Giving a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players ... Listen: as much taxes as these players pay - let me repeat that - as much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment."
Smith responded, "For life and death?" to which Barkley said, "Yes."
Smith attempted to argue with Barkley that income shouldn't play a role in the vaccine order, though Barkley insisted it would be a reward for paying more taxes.
Some epidemiologists have suggested that getting professional athletes the vaccine early could persuade the general public that the vaccine is safe.
"I think it's a very serious proposition," Harvey Fineberg, a former dean of Harvard's School of Public Health and former president of the Institute of Medicine, told The Wall Street Journal in December. "Sports has suffered as much as any economic endeavor, so there's a combination of enlightened self-interest to get involved and play their part. I see a lot of winning possibilities in it."
However, Barkley's comments come as leagues like the NFL and NBA have vowed not to "skip the line" to get vaccines.
As Smith noted, professional athletes are among the healthiest Americans and least at-risk communities for COVID-19.
Watch Barkley's comments below:
—Chenue Her (@ChenueHer) January 15, 2021
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