SAN FRANCISCO - It was a historic day in the Bay Area as hospital workers in San Francisco and Contra Costa County were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
Officials said it represents the light at the end of the tunnel.
In Martinez, frontline workers at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center got vaccinated Tuesday afternoon.
They said they waited a long time for this day to come.
Dr. Sergio Urcuyo became the first of 14 volunteers to get vaccinated in Contra Costa County.
"This is a big important feat of modern medicine; that it's safe and that we should do it," Dr. Urcuyo said.
He recalls treating the COVID-19 patients from the Diamond Princess cruise ship at the beginning of the pandemic.
"The scary part wasn't being in the room. It was driving home and saying okay, I just treated a novel virus. I was in the room. I have no idea of the effect on my clothes, my hair."
Contra Costa County officials said it received 9,750 doses of the vaccine Tuesday morning.
They are being distributed to frontline health care workers in high risk settings at hospitals.
"There is a lot of fear in the community," Dr. Sonia Sutherland said. She also got vaccinated. She said being African American, she wanted to encourage communities of color to get vaccinated, "It's so important for African Americans, other people of color, to feel that they can trust the vaccine."
Earlier in the day at Zuckerberg San Francisco General, five frontline workers made history.
Two nurses, two doctors and a radiology technician received the first doses of the 12,675 vaccines San Francisco received.
"This is a historic day for San Francisco as we move forward in dealing with this pandemic," said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco's director of health.
The plan is to administer the vaccine to many more workers at San Francisco General starting Wednesday.
Doses are also being allocated to acute care facilities throughout the city to do the same soon.
“To be clear, this is hope, but we don't have enough doses to cover all of our health care professionals. We have to make sure our frontline health care workers are taken care of first and that's a process," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said.
Back in Martinez, frontline workers say there is pride in saving lives and being among the first to volunteer for the vaccine: unforgettable milestones in this dark chapter in history.
"I do believe this is where we turn the tide on this war," said Dr. Urcuyo. A war that health officials said is far from over.
They emphasize that the general population will likely not have access to the COVID-19 vaccine until sometime next year when supply is no longer limited.
That's why they're urging the public to wear masks, socially distance and not to gather for the holidays.