Magic’s Jonathan Isaac defends vaccine stance: 'We live in the land of the free'

Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Issac pushes back on NBA vaccine policy

Professional basketball player joins ‘Fox News @ Night’ to discuss the increased pressure for NBA players to get vaccinated

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac spoke on “Fox News @ Night” Monday about how he somewhat reluctantly found himself in the middle of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine debate.

Isaac, who has had COVID-19, has said he is not “anti-vax” and made clear that he has the “utmost respect for every health care worker” dealing with the pandemic. His position is that vaccines should be the individual’s choice with no risk of social opprobrium.  

Isaac’s supporters say his stance is reasonable and well-argued, while detractors point to Centers for Disease Control guidelines recommending vaccines for everyone 12 years and older.

The 23-year-old told Shannon Bream that he spoke his mind because he believes the U.S. is headed toward a precedent that freedom is negotiable in times of hardship.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – JULY 31: Jonathan Isaac #1 of the Orlando Magic stands as others kneel before the start of a game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Orlando Magic on July 31, 2020 at The HP Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Ashley Landis – Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ashley Landis – Pool/Getty Images)

“I believe that what I’m saying is rational,” he said. “And it’s free…We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave and we have the opportunity and the platform to say what it is that we feel that is right. I’m taking that right to do so, not just for me, but for all of those people who feel like they don’t have a voice.”

Bream pointed to NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently calling out players who refuse the vaccine for putting teammates and opponents at greater risk for infection.

Isaac responded to the criticism by questioning the effectiveness of the vaccines and the high survival rate among healthy individuals. He said that he does not want to downplay the virus’s impact on the lives of many, but believes that freedoms should not be sacrificed. 

Bream noted that recent studies show that the Pfizer vaccine, for example, proved to be 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths against the delta variant in the six months after receiving the second jab, and declines over time.

The NBA season arrived Monday with media days in advance of training camp, with the ongoing pandemic as much if not even more of a topic than basketball. This will be the third season affected at least in part by the pandemic, almost certainly not the last, and some teams revealed that their rosters are 100% vaccinated entering the season.

Players who are vaccinated will not be tested often; unvaccinated players will be tested on all practice days and travel days, and at least once on game days.

Leaguewide, the vaccination rate is believed to be around 90% and climbing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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