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MetroHealth employees begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines

The president of the hospital system calls it 'the safest vaccine that has ever been formulated.'

CLEVELAND — It's a big day in Cleveland, as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed for the first time in Northeast Ohio.

Inoculations began Monday in the Columbus and Cincinnati areas, but Wednesday three local hospitals began using their supply of the shots. Health care workers will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

3News and other media outlets were at MetroHealth Medical Center this morning to witness the hospital's first vaccinations out of an initial supply of a little under 1,000. President and CEO Akram Boutros said he is "committed to making sure this works for all our staff."

"Monday morning was an unbelievable day," Bourtos said of the day the first shipments began arriving. "I feel like an absolute weight has been lifted, and I can't wait to go on this journey."

The Pfizer vaccine, as well as others likely to follow it, was approved in seemingly record time. That has caused some to fear its safety, but Bourtos strongly threw his confidence behind it.

"This is the safest vaccine that has ever been formulated," he said, noting that it is made not of virus cells but of a protein. "I can't wait to get the vaccine.

Critical care specialist Dr. Sherrie D. Williams was the first to be inoculated. While she admitted she was nervous, she told reporters it was a no-brainer to get the shot.

"What I know for sure is that people have been dying," she said. "All around the world, people have been dying. Right here in the United States, people have been dying, and while there may be some things that we're nervous or apprehensive about...here's an opportunity, a chance to make it better, a chance to prevent people from dying."

The workers have not been immunized yet, as they will have to receive a second dose of the vaccine in a few weeks for it to take full effect. Workers at the Cleveland Clinic and local VA hospital will also be receiving the shots in the coming days.

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