Shaq attacks vaccine mandates

The LA Lakers icon said people shouldn't be forced 'to take something you don’t want'

Shaquille O'Neal has spoken against Covid vaccines and argued that people should not be forced to get their jabs if it goes "against their morals."

The retired four-time NBA champion stated his beliefs on an edition of The Big Podcast with Shaq

And though he encouraged listeners to stay safe and "take care of your family," he disagreed with members of the public being forced to take the vaccine unwillingly.

"But it’s just, people don’t want to take it, and you shouldn’t be forced to take something you don’t want," Shaq stated.

When co-host Nischelle Turner said she didn't believe people were being forced to take the vaccine, she then backtracked and conceded there was a mandate at her broadcasting company CBS which O'Neal repeatedly insisted is "forced." 

"It is forced. Because if the man don't take it, the man gonna get fired," O'Neal pointed out.

Once the discussion turned to the recent arrest of two Long Island nurses accused of making over $1.5 million for producing forged Covid vaccination cards, Shaq protested: "Don’t send them to jail!" 

"I’m gonna probably get in trouble for this," O’Neal admitted, before offering a hypothetical situation of a fictional co-worker at Entertainment Tonight, where Turner works.

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"Say Nischelle, your sound guy at ET been working there 10 years. That [job is] all you know," O'Neal began.

"Let’s just say ET puts out a new policy: If you don’t get the vaccination, you’re going to lose your job," O’Neal continued, before suggesting it is unfair for people to be forced to choose between their livelihoods or "going against [their] morals" in getting vaccinated.

"You work for a private company, bro," Turner said of O'Neal's employ with Inside the NBA on TNT, after stating she "wholeheartedly disagreed" with the gentle giant.

"We’re a capitalist society. It’s a free market society. If you don't want to follow that company's policy, then you follow yourself on out the door."

"I’m with you on the rules because I’m a rules guy," O’Neal replied. "But I do feel sympathetic towards people who have to make that kind of decision." 

"I don’t," Turner replied, "not when you’re putting other people at risk" in what she described as a "public health issue".

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O'Neal's remarks are a reversal from when he dug into Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving for refusing to get vaccinated at the start of the ongoing season.

"In this line of work, sometimes you have to be selfless," he told the 29-year-old, whose stance saw him unable to feature in games for a championship-fancied team before returning to action on January 5 to play those outside New York and Toronto where protocol is stricter.

"The day I decided it wasn’t all about me and it’s about us is the day I started winning and really started dominating," he said of his previous stubbornness and trouble getting along with fellow superstars such as the late Kobe Bryant before the Lakers built a dynasty.

"I understand the issues and all that. But I took the vaccine because I’m not trying to get my mother sick, or my sister or my brother, or people around me. I know people say: 'The vaccine came too fast, and is it healthy?' To each his own. But sometimes you have to think about the overall picture, and you have to think about more than yourself," Shaq added.

Since the start of the pandemic, close to 900,000 Americans have lost their lives across a total 78 million cases.

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