Orlando Magic, AdventHealth and City of Orlando Turn Amway Center into Vaccination Site, Assist Downtown Orlando Residents

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - The more convenient it is to get vaccinated, the more likely it is that more people will, which is precisely why the Orlando Magic, AdventHealth and the City of Orlando felt it was important to convert the Amway Center into a vaccination site on Thursday.

With medical health professionals, elected officials and many others imploring everyone to get vaccinated so that we can all get back to our normal lives, the Magic and their longtime partners made it safe and easy for residents in the downtown Orlando area to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors.

The Moderna vaccine was administered at the Magic’s home arena free of charge to Central Floridians 18 years of age and over, helping this community take another step closer to the goal of reaching herd immunity.

"What's going to get us through this pandemic is the vaccine,” AdventHealth Centra Care Medical Director Dr. Timothy Hendrix said. “So, we've had a vaccine available since December and we've just got to get the message out to get everybody vaccinated so we can slow down this outbreak. We are still in the middle of a major outbreak, there's 2-3,000 people a day newly diagnosed with Covid-19 right now throughout Florida. So, it's ongoing, but it is getting better because of people being vaccinated, but if there are unvaccinated people in our community there are still vulnerabilities and people can get sick from Covid-19."

It’s critical, both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings say, for organizations to advocate for immunization against Covid-19, which as of Thursday afternoon has taken the lives of over 583,000 people in the U.S., including nearly 36,000 in Florida. The two mayors, who along with Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill were at Amway Center on Thursday thanking all of the healthcare workers and the event’s volunteers for their compassion and strength during these incredibly challenging times, are extremely appreciative of both AdventHealth and the Magic for all they are doing to increase vaccine awareness.

“The Orlando Magic and the players have always been a pivotal part of this community and they give back, and what a way to make a difference in the community other than by encouraging people to go out and get vaccinated,” Demings said. “We are here where the Orlando Magic plays. It’s right in the heart of downtown Orlando and a lot of people who live in this neighborhood historically have had some hesitancy with getting vaccinated, but when they see athletes and other celebrities and leaders in the community stepping up to the plate, I believe it communicates something to them that it’s okay that they do it as well.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the Magic have made the health, safety and well-being of players, coaches, staffers and fans a top priority. They’ve also teamed up with many partners during this crisis to provide community support through various fundraisers.

Magic players Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter Jr., both fully vaccinated, recently did ad campaigns with AdventHealth to encourage others to get vaccinated.

“I decided to get the vaccine just because I want to get back to normal as soon as possible, and I feel like I’m helping take steps towards getting back to normal. I feel like this was best for me and my family, so I recommend everybody out there to go get it,” Fultz said.

Around half of all adults in Orange County have already been vaccinated and the hope, Dyer says, is to get to 70 or 80 percent, which medical experts have said is needed to reach herd immunity. Dyer and Demings are both optimistic that can happen as long as we keep highlighting the importance of the vaccine and show people how it will strengthen our community and economy if enough people get it in their arms.

“We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” Dyer said. “We know that it’s safer now to go without a mask if you are outside, not inside. You don’t need as much social distancing. Fifty percent, we did a good job getting there but we need to do better.”

“If you want to get back to normal, if you want to protect yourself, if you want to protect your loved ones, go ahead and get vaccinated,” he added.

AdventHealth is a “Champion of the Community” partner of the Magic. For over 30 years, they’ve teamed up to build a healthier and more active community. Earlier this year, they announced details of the AdventHealth Training Center, slated to open in the spring of 2022. In addition to the Magic practicing there, the state-of-the-art facility will feature a 33,300-square-foot medical center that will be available to the public.

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