MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Doctors and staff at Madera Community Hospital received their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.
The excitement from the staff was noticeable.
"When they asked me yesterday when do you want it, I say yesterday," said Dr. Mohommad Ashraf, a cardiologist at the hospital. "They say we don't have the vaccine yesterday, I say whenever the vaccine comes in, I shall be the first one."
Dr. Ashraf and 19 other staff members at Madera Community Hospital were given the vaccine Thursday afternoon. Another 20 staff members will be vaccinated on Friday, and that number is expected to ramp up next week.
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The vaccinations come as the nation is seeing record numbers of COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations, but the death that impacted Dr. Ashraf the most came at the dawn of this pandemic: a colleague of 40 years.
"It was very sad, I saw the whole thing. She just suffered. She was incubated, put on the respirator, but she did not make it. She died on April 3rd and was buried on April 8th and there was nobody at the burial," he said.
That friend was the second person to die of COVID-19 in Madera County, but now, more than 100 deaths and 8,000 cases later in the county, hope arrives.
Madera Community does not have the equipment needed to hold the vaccine longterm, so each day they plan to vaccinate, they'll be picking them up from Valley Children's, who started their vaccinations on Wednesday.
RELATED: Valley Children's administers COVID-19 vaccine to hospital healthcare workers
"With this big surge, it's scary out there right now so I'm just looking for some type of hope," said Kenneth Legaspi, a respiratory therapist at Madera Community who was vaccinated on Thursday. "And hopefully this vaccine is the hope that we need."
"People should not be afraid of the vaccine. Fear is not something we should have in our hearts about this disease or about this vaccine," Dr. Ashraf said.
Madera doctors receive first COVID-19 vaccinations, urge public to get them when available
"People should not be afraid of this vaccine," a Madera doctor said.