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The Jazz are fully vaccinated — here's why that's so important

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) exits after an interview during the Utah Jazz media media day at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) exits after an interview during the Utah Jazz media media day at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — It was with some relief and pride that Jazz general manager Justin Zanik made the announcement.

"We are 100% vaccinated," he said. "I'm happy to be able to say that."

The Jazz announced a lot of moves throughout the organization Monday, with the major ones being that assistant general David Morway had stepped into an advisory role and vice president of performance health care Mike Elliott had left the organization. But even with those changes, Zanik's proclamation was the biggest news that came out of Monday's media day.

Leading up to the start of the season, there has been some hesitancy by some players to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. While those players' decisions have been met with mostly support from the NBA fraternity as a whole, they do come with some consequences.

Due to local regulations, unvaccinated players are currently not allowed to play in New York or San Francisco. Fair or not, that has turned a large spotlight on the vaccination status of the players.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving had to video call into media day on Monday due to COVID-19 protocols and Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins was recently denied a religious exemption to not get the vaccine. Those distractions won't make it to Utah.

"I think it's every person's choice, but the fact that our players and our coaches and health performance and the entire organization chose to do that to protect each other," Zanik said. "You already know how high character guys are and how much they care about each other. It's a simple gesture between them, as well as their fans and communities. I am proud of them."

Some teams will have to jump through some additional hoops due to protocols this season. By getting vaccinated, the Jazz made it pretty easy on themselves.

That was partially the reason some players chose to get it. Helping stop a global pandemic was also an added bonus.

"I think it's great that we're all vaccinated," Donovan Mitchell said. "... At the end of the day, It is a personal decision but I definitely encourage, not just my team, but I encourage people to get vaccinated so we can get past this."

The Jazz have helped nudge people to get it, too. Last week, the team announced that fans would not be able to enter Vivint Arena unless they are vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test.

"I mean, if you don't come you're missing the best show in town, for real," Jordan Clarkson said. "We've got one main goal this year and we're going to rack up a lot of wins, so you do what you've got to do, get your COVID test, get your vaccine to be at the games. We are going to put a great show on for everyone."

Some Jazz players were initially hesitant. Rudy Gobert said he took his time to research and talk with the right people before ultimately choosing to get vaccinated.

"It is cool that we have the whole group and that everyone is ready, making sure that we aren't making that a distraction for the team," Gobert said.

But there's another reason Joe Ingles is thankful: helping his family stay safe. Ingles knows his job isn't the safest when it comes to spreading disease — a lot of traveling and physical contact doesn't bode well for that — but it makes him be a little more at ease with everyone in his team circle vaccinated.

"I'm able to know that I've been more or less in as safe environment as I can be," Ingles said.

Less distractions, less restrictions and more safety — no wonder Zanik sounded awfully happy to state his team had reached full vaccination status.

"I think it's reflective of what our players, our coaches and staff has a commitment to," Zanik said.

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