One of South Florida's largest health care systems began vaccinating frontline workers in Palm Beach County against COVID-19 on Monday, and the first worker in line was a Boynton Beach nurse who cares for infected patients every day.
Christine Cummings works at Bethesda Hospital East on a floor filled with coronavirus patients.
On Monday in Boca Raton, she received her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.
"I was really happy to find out that I'd have the opportunity to get the vaccine," Cummings said.
Cummings is one of 400 frontline workers in the Baptist Health South Florida hospitals of Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Bethesda Hospital East, and Bethesda Hospital West who are expected to receive shots this week.
Doctors and frontline workers said they see the vaccine as a major step in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
"It'll kind of take away that daunting feeling that you have leaving to work, going to work. If you were exposed or not," Cummings.
The Baptist Health South Florida system has 1,600 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Palm Beach County. That's enough to take care of the frontline medical workers.
"Frontline workers are tired and we are very pleased that we now have a new tool in our toolbelt," said Dr. Evan Goldstein.
People 65 and older and those with compromised immune systems can expect to get the COVID-19 vaccine from Baptist Health facilities when more doses arrive, which is expected in mid-January.
"I'm going to work after this," Cummings said, laughing.
Cummings is going to work at Bethesda Hospital East, the same hospital she was born at 29 years ago, and where she'll be on the job for the first time after her vaccination.
"It's one less thing, if you get exposed to someone. You're around a lot of people, you never know. So I think I will feel some relief," Cummings said.
Some relief as she heads to a shift of treating coronavirus patients, who are living reminders that despite the vaccine, the pandemic is far from over.