Health care workers at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center were believed to be among the first in Massachusetts to receive a vaccine developed by Moderna, a biotech company based across the river in Cambridge.
Dr. Jaime Gallegos held a sign that said “Take that, COVID!” as he was given the shot to a round of applause on Monday, in what officials at the center said they believe was the first Moderna vaccine to be administered in the state.
“I feel really grateful,” Gallegos said.
Dr. Jackie Fantes, chief medical officer at the center who also received the shot, said it was “nothing short of a miracle.”
"I cannot wait to protect my staff. I’ve been worried about them every single day,” Fantes said as she appeared to become emotional.
Morgan Brister, a registered nurse at South End Community Health Center, who was also vaccinated at the center Monday, said it was an “honor to get the vaccine.”
“Victory. I’m so excited,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to seeing patients and hugging people again.
Brister also cautioned that even with the arrival of the vaccines, the fight against the coronavirus isn’t over, particularly as Christmas and New Year’s Eve approach.
“We can’t let our guard down now,” Brister said, a sentiment that Governor Charlie Baker repeated during a Monday afternoon press conference, saying officials are “begging” residents to celebrate the upcoming holidays in person with their immediate households only.
The administration of the first Moderna vaccines in Boston came as hospitals around the country began to receive doses after the Food and Drug Administration on Friday night cleared the company’s vaccine for emergency use, adding a second vaccine to the country’s arsenal in the fight against the virus that has killed more than 11,000 Massachusetts residents and 300,000 Americans.
Massachusetts expects to initially receive about 120,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine, and Boston Medical Center received 7,500 doses of Moderna’s vaccine on Monday, a spokesman said. Shipments began arriving at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center at 10 a.m.
Pfizer developed the first vaccine to be cleared for emergency use by the FDA, and doses began to be administered to health care workers in Massachusetts and across the country last week.