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ATHENS, Ala. — This week marked one year since many doctors and nurses received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. For some, the day they received it is a day they will never forget.

“I was happy to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Phil Tranqui, a general surgeon at Athens-Limestone Hospital. “I think it was an important step.”

Tranqui says he was happy to be one of the first to get vaccinated, stating December 15, 2020 was an important day for him.

“For the county and the hospital, you know, we were one of the first hospitals in North Alabama to administer the vaccine,” Tranqui told News 19. “So think that was a big step to a long year and a half.”

Dr. Tranqui says there was no apprehension on getting the vaccine, but for Shana Burroughs, a nurse at the same hospital, the decision was a little more doubtful.

Burroughs says that after everything it was honor to be one of the first to receive the vaccine. She told News 19 that getting the vaccine is a way to give yourself and your loved ones the ultimate protection.

“Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you won’t necessarily develop COVID, but from what we’ve seen it does help to minimize the symptoms and the severity,” Burroughs said. “We have people who have gotten the vaccine and end up in the hospital but their symptoms aren’t usually as bad as those who have not received the vaccine.”

Burroughs says the virus is still not behind us.

“I don’t feel like it’s something that’s going to go away,” Burroughs said. “I feel like it’s something we’re going to deal with for a while.”

Tranqui says while it’s not completely behind us, patient care has gotten better.

“They’ve done a great job, learning how to manage patients, learning how to keep them out of the hospital, how to try and keep them off ventilators… I think they’ve done a great job at that,” said Tranqui.

For a list of COVID-19 vaccine distributors or clinics, click here.