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COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Monroe County


The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Monroe County on Tuesday and given to a small group of health workers at Strong Memorial Hospital.

The inoculations were the first to be given here outside of those provided in clinical trials, and were to be administered to several hundred more people on Wednesday, health officials said.

Carlos Rosa, who works in patient transport at Strong, was the first person to receive the vaccine locally.

“I’m really looking forward to this so that I can lead the way and to be closer to my family," Rosa said in a video interview distributed by the hospital to media. "I’ve been very distant because of COVID, and I feel like I’m taking the right steps and the right movement so I can get closer back to them."
During a media briefing URMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Apostolakos acknowledged the wariness among some segments of the population of receiving a vaccine that was so quickly mass produced, but maintained that it was safe and called it a “modern miracle of 2020.”

``It’s safe and effective and we’re going to encourage people to take it. I’m hopeful as people see patients who take it and are having minimal if any side effects, that more and more will be encouraged to take it,” Apostolakos said.

Dr. Robert Mayo, the Chief Medical Officer at Rochester Regional Health, said that RRH has also received some doses of the vaccine, which was manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech . The hospital was expected to vaccinate a small number of staff on Tuesday and ramp up to hundreds of people later this week.

Health care workers, long term care workers and residents, and EMS personnel are the top priority in the first phase of vaccinations.

Apostolakos says depending upon the supply, the average person in the Rochester area can likely expect to get the vaccine between June and August of 2021.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and local health officials agree that until then, people need to stay vigilant, wear their mask, and physically distance themselves.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.