BUFFALO, N.Y. — With the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, medical professionals in some ways became the patients at hospitals across the state.
Philip McCarthy, MD, was the first Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center employee to receive the vaccine.
"It's an exciting opportunity for us and we look forward to being able to help our whole community move past this and into a better 2021," said McCarthy, the director of the Transplant & Cellular Therapy Center at Roswell Park.
McCarthy is a cancer survivor himself. He told 2 On Your Side he was interested in taking the vaccine through the lens of both a patient and a healthcare provider.
"The data looks very safe based on the thousands of people who've received this already and they are, at the state level as well as the national level, going to track this," McCarthy said. "I have an app I have to download to my cellphone to report my symptoms every day. I'm more than willing to participate in that to demonstrate that this is a safe vaccine."
Next on the list to receive the vaccine was Dwayne Smith, a phlebotomist at the cancer center.
"We're around patients all day and they're facing enough things without this pandemic over their head as well. Let's try to protect them as much as possible," Smith said.
Both people we spoke to compared the physical feeling to that of a regular flu shot.
While the vaccine won't be readily available to the general public for some time, the medical professionals at facilities like Roswell are already sending a message.
Smith told 2 On Your Side, "The community needs this. We've been waiting a long time for this so let's do the right thing and help get rid of this pandemic."
"I hope that is some comfort for individuals who might be sitting on the fence, that we couldn't be more excited about the opportunity and what that's going to be able to do for us, within our community, within our region, the nation and the world," said Shirley Johnson, the chief clinical operations officer at Roswell Park.
On day one, around 125 Roswell employees got vaccinated.
With a lot of work still left to be done, the people we spoke to are hoping this is the beginning of a new chapter in the fight against COVID-19.