PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Health care workers at Philadelphia hospitals began receiving coronavirus vaccinations on Wednesday morning. It’s what they’ve been waiting for — health care workers who’ve been putting themselves at risk by treating COVID-19 patients are eager to get vaccinated.

And today, at hospitals across the city, there were thousands of injections.

Antoine Miller, an intensive care unit tech, was the first to get vaccinated at Einstein.

“We’re trying our best to be safe,” Miller said. “I’m happy this vaccine is here and we can get this show on the road.”

Dr. Erica Harris says it’s important to protect herself and her patients.

“I think we need to be role models, show people this is a safe vaccine,” Dr. Harris said.

Dr Jennifer Gil, an emergency department physician who already had COVID, was the first to be vaccinated at Jefferson, along with Dr. Emily Stewart.

“Having the vaccine finally gives me hope,” Dr. Stewart said. “I feel like I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

She says treating COVID patients has been scary and getting the vaccine is a relief. She’s not concerned about side effects that can include some temporary flu-like symptoms.

“I’m not concerned about it,” Dr. Stewart said. “Flu-like symptoms to me means my body is creating the antibodies needed to fight this virus, which means I’m protecting myself and my patients.”

At Penn Medicine, pharmacists were overseeing the process of thawing the Pfizer vaccine, then diluting it before the injections. Eric Young, a nurse, is glad to have the vaccine and hopes it gets to the public quickly.

“I think it’s very important that the community actually get the shot and make sure they have no fear getting the shot, because it’s very important that we all get the shot,” Young said.

Philadelphia has about 13,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be distributed this week, but more is on the way. The state is providing vaccines to facilities outside the city.

Officials say getting the vaccine is voluntary and free.

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