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Last year, Towns, 25, lost his mother Jacqueline following a weeks-long battle with coronavirus. Six other of Towns' family members also died after contracting the virus, which he later caught himself.
With only 54 percent of the country fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, months after the vaccine was made available to the public for free, Towns voiced his displeasure in a tweet.
"Every day I see a new excuse why people ain't getting the vaccine," he wrote. "Ya starting to get creative with these 'reasons' though and it's actually really funny."
The tweet sparked a flurry of reactions online, with some users criticizing or praising Towns. Later in a reply to journalist Jon Krawczynski, Towns elaborated on his opinion.
Every day I see a new excuse why people ain’t getting the vaccine. Ya starting to get creative with these “reasons” though and it’s actually really funny.
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) September 15, 2021
"It never matters to people until it happens to them," he said. "I hope no one has to deal with what I've had to and still continue to deal with."
Towns received his first COVID-19 vaccine in April, and commemorated the moment with a post to social media.
"Shot 1," he captioned the photo, which shows him giving the camera a thumbs-up while a medical provider administers his shot.
This isn't the first time Towns has publicly advocated for others to get the vaccine. After testing positive in January, he said it would take a "group effort" to battle the virus.
"I pray every day that this nightmare of a virus will subside and I beg everyone to continue to take it seriously by taking all the necessary precautions," he wrote on social media. "We cannot stop the spread of this virus alone, it must be a group effort by all of us."
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In June, Kean University in New Jersey named a basketball court on campus after Jacqueline Towns.
An average of 152,000 people were infected with COVID-19 over the last seven days, according to the New York Times. Nearly 1,900 people died and 99,275 others were hospitalized over the same time span.
Breakthrough cases — COVID-19 infections that occur in people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus — are rare, but possible and expected, as the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infections. Still, vaccinated people who test positive will likely be asymptomatic or experience a far milder illness than if they were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99% — are in unvaccinated people.