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First COVID-19 Vaccines on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Given to Health Care Workers

The first coronavirus vaccines landing on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket were given to health care workers Thursday morning.

Emergency room physician assistant Maria Carey at Nantucket Cottage Hospital was the first on Nantucket to get the shot. She spoke to CAI moments after getting vaccinated.

"It's wonderful," Carey said. "I think this is an amazing step for our community and for the United States in general. and I hope that everyone will take this very seriously as it rolls out."

Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are both part of the Mass General Bringham's system. Officials in Cambridge are coordinating the shipments of the vaccine as they become available. Both island hospitals received a shipment of 40 doses on Wednesday, and going forward they will receive regular shipments.

Chief Nurse at Martha's Vineyard Hospital Claire Sequin says the first vaccines will go to staff that work directly with COVID-19 patients.

"Once this group has received the first dose and if we have the supply, we will move ahead  to immunize those staff that are not in direct contact with COVID patients, but are working at the hospital," Sequin said.

Sequin says staff are excited with the vaccine’s arrival, but so far, more staffers want the shot than there is supply. "This is a marathon, and not a sprint," Sequin said. "But we are confident that over the next couple of months we will get one to everyone that wants one."

Dr. Karen Casper, Medical Director of the Emergency Department and EMS was the first patient on the Vineyard to receive the vaccine, followed shortly after by Sandra Carvalho, an environmental services worker at the hospital.

Back on Nantucket, emergency room physician assistant Maria Carey says she felt just a prick from the shot, and hadn't experienced any side effects. Nor did she expect to.

She says the rollout of the vaccine on the island is exciting. They've had a tough several months since the pandemic began. "It's been a lot of anxiety. There's been a lot of constant questioning and worrying that we are doing is the right thing, and doing everything in our power to keep everyone well, and keep everyone safe," she says.

Now, Carey says, the rollout of the vaccine is the first step to ending the pandemic.

"I had no qualms taking this vaccine," she said. "I truly believe our scientists have done the work. And our scientists have shown through the data, through the FDA and the CDC that these vaccines have been safe, and they've been effective."

Sam Houghton has been with the station since the summer of 2017. Before that, he worked at the Falmouth Enterprise, where he covered local politics.