Frontline Healthcare Workers Say COVID Vaccine 'Is the Light We Finally Get to See'

Following months of treating the coronavirus pandemic and putting themselves at risk to help others, medical professionals have spoken of their relief in finally getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

With hospitalizations across the U.S. hitting record levels, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a vaccine developed by Moderna for emergency use—the second COVID-19 vaccine to get such approval.

The FDA commissioner, Stephen Hahn said that the availability of a vaccine in addition to the one developed by Pfizer, was "another crucial step in the fight against this global pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told NBC he expected Moderna's vaccine, which is is 94 percent effective at preventing the disease, to be administered to people "by the very early part of next week."

COVID vaccine
A healthcare worker receives a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on December 18. Health workers are among the first to get the jab. CHANDAN KHANNA/Getty Images

It comes as Americans have received their first dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which was authorized by the FDA last week. To boost public confidence in the vaccine, Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams both received it publicly on Friday.

Frontline health workers who were among the first to get the jab, have described how they feel that tackling the pandemic is taking a turn for the better.

"We're gonna make it through this. It's the light at the end of the tunnel. We have not seen that light yet, this is that light that we finally get to see," said Gena Bravo, chief nurse executive at California's Woodland Memorial Hospital.

Medical workers throughout northern California had expressed concerned about the lack of protective equipment like surgical masks, but the vaccine had changed the mood of staff.

"A lot of people went out on leave early on because they were so terrified," she told CBS 13, "I have to tell you they say chaos brings out the best in people and I am so proud of the group of leaders I work with."

"It's like the weight of the world is off my shoulders. It really is. I went to sleep feeling a lot different last night than I will tonight," she added.

At the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, Andrew Matuskowitz, said that he found himself "getting really emotional" when he went to get the vaccine but its arrival had lifted the spirits of his colleagues significantly.

"Every clinician and every nurse that I've spoken to has been eager to get the vaccine," he told CNN. "There's a great enthusiasm from the medical community on the front lines."

However, amid the optimism is concern over the extent to which the pandemic is raging across the U.S. Over the past week, more than 18,000 Americans have died of the disease, and the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects another 237,000 could die in the next three months.

The graphic below by Statista shows how willing Americans are to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID vaccine hesitancy in U.S.
STATISTA