Charles Barkley says high-taxed, pro-athletes should skip line for COVID shot

CAMDEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: Charles Barkley speaks at the podium prior to his sculpture being unveiled at the Philadelphia 76ers training facility on September 13, 2019 in Camden, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Health care workers, first responders and the elderly are all in line to get the initial doses of the coronavirus vaccine first, but Charles Barkley offered a different idea Thursday.

Barkley said during the "NBA on TNT" broadcast that pro athletes should get the first round of the vaccine.

"I think they should let NBA players and coaches all get the vaccine. That’s just my personal opinion. We need 300 million shots. Give some thousand to NBA players … NFL players, hockey players … As much taxes as these players pay, let me repeat that, as much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment," Barkley said.

His co-hosts Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith didn’t think that was a good idea. He didn’t really find any people on his side of the argument on social media, either.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told NBA teams last month the league "would not jump the line" to obtain the vaccines early, ESPN reported.

The U.S. vaccine rollout was criticized by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, as being "too rigid" earlier this week -- the same day the Trump administration moved to expand distribution efforts.

Fauci, who noted that country faced "almost an unprecedented challenge" in rolling out the vaccine, said that while it was appropriate to get shots to priority groups such as health care workers and people who are in nursing homes, the country was "too rigid in categorizing and classifying people," which prevented "getting the vaccine doses out in the most efficient matter."

He said that while the U.S. is not "abandoning the prioritization" approach, it will move forward so that when people are ready to get vaccinated they can, which will also cut down on supplies sitting in freezers when "they could be getting into people’s arms."