ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — With coronavirus cases on the rise locally, AdventHealth Central Florida is looking for volunteers to take participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial at its hospital.

What You Need To Know

AdventHealth Central Florida is a testing site for Johnson & Johnson’s Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial of its coronavirus vaccine.

AdventHealth is looking for 4,500 Central Floridians to take part in the trial. They are encouraging all types of people including those who have diabetes, along with Black and Latino participants.

AdventHealth Central Florida Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Steven Smith said this vaccine trial is very promising.

“Preliminary studies show one shot is sufficient to produce anitbodies to keep the immune system revved up to fight the coronavirus,” he said.

He said their NO. 1 priority is safety and No. 2 is reaching out to the communities that have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus, like those in Kissimmee and Azalea Park.

“The Ensemble trial is focused on communities of color — both Hispanic and Black communities — and in fact we've gone so far as to open special sites nearest to those communities cause we know they’re actually hot spots,” said Smith. 

Jose Garcia Acosta, a Navy veteran who lives in Azalea Park, plans to sign up for the vaccine trial.

“As a Navy guy you always put everyone in front and I am thinking why not do that because hopefully its one step to help everyone else,” he said.

Coronavirus hits home for Acosta. He said he knows a lot people in his community of Azalea Park who contracted the virus, and has family members who were impacted.

“I have relatives back home — one of my brothers, his mother-in-law just passed away, his father-in-law is in the hospital, and one of my best friends is in the hospital,” Acosta said.

Acosta said a vaccine is a necessity.

“(It is) extremely critical," he said. "It’s not just the deaths ... it’s the numbers to come if we don’t do something more about it.”