Monday marked a turning point after so many months of misery for frontline health care workers as they began to receive the first clinically authorized vaccinations as part of America’s mass vaccination campaign.

“I’m so ecstatic,” said Angela Mattingly, a housekeeper at the University of Iowa Hospital, in Iowa City, who has been cleaning the rooms of people with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. “This is the marking of getting back to normal.”

On Monday morning, Ms. Mattingly was fifth in line as shots were dispensed. She was told to wait for 15 minutes in case she had an adverse reaction, and then she headed back downstairs to finish her shift.

Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief as TV screens that for so long recounted the rising toll were filled with images of supply trucks fanning out and doses being administered. For those who work in the health care industry, it was a pleasant turn in what has been a devastating year.

The moment was heavy for Mona Moghareh, a 30-year-old pharmacist, on Monday morning as she administered the first shots at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.

“We have been waiting for this,” she said, as journalists and state officials looked on. “This is really for all of those patients that unfortunately didn’t make it, all those patients still coming through the doors.”

In Ohio, pharmacists were greeted with cheering and applause as they carried in doses for about 30 physicians at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

Dr. Mark Conroy, 41, an emergency medicine physician and the medical director of the Ohio State University Hospital emergency department, was one of the first to receive the vaccine on Monday morning.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Dr. Mark Conroy, 41, the medical director of the Ohio State University Hospital emergency department, was one of the first to receive the vaccine.

“It’s been a long 10 months of work and protecting ourselves and protecting our patients, and so to have the opportunity to be a little bit safer going forward means a lot to me,” said Dr. Conroy, who said he had been anxious about the prospect of bringing the virus home to his family.

He added that he would continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

“We still are learning a lot about how this vaccine works and how people respond to it,” he said, “so I certainly don’t want to take any chances and see myself get sick.”

In Kentucky, Dr. Jason Smith, the chief medical officer at University of Louisville Health, was the first person in the state to receive the vaccine.

“Didn’t even feel it,’’ Dr. Smith said, laughing as a health care worker applied a smiley face Band-Aid to his arm.

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