(NEW YORK) — From the front lines, to the first in line.

Health care heroes across the United States received the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, the first to receive emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Yves Duroseau, the chair of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said he was excited to take the vaccine not just for himself but for others, too.

“For myself, for my family, for my patients. This is what’s going to save us… This is what’s going to save lives,” Duroseau told ABC News’ World News Tonight.

In Iowa City, Iowa, nurse Seth Jackson and nurse practitioner Allison Wynnes said they are feeling grateful and that the vaccine will help end the pandemic.

“I just got my COVID-19 vaccine today and I could not be more excited,” said Jackson, who cares for patients in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics COVID-19 intensive care unit. “This is a monumental time for medicine and this is such a light at the end of the tunnel time for this COVID-19 pandemic.”

The FDA approved Pfizer and German company BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people ages 16 and older on Friday. Following the agency’s decision, 2.9 million doses of the companies’ vaccine were shipped to 636 sites across the country.

Although the seven-day averages of new daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths reached record highs in the U.S. on Dec. 13, the authorization marked a major turning point in the country’s efforts to defeat the virus.

The first doses of the vaccine were administered to health care workers and nursing home staffers.

Dr. Jason Smith, a trauma surgeon and chief medical officer at the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky, has been working hard since the early days of the pandemic, helping his hospital acquire vital protective gear and set up its COVID-19 unit, as well as orchestrating its first drive-thru testing site.

He told World News Tonight that the vaccine brings hope.

“It’s difficult to put into words what this day means to not just myself but everyone across this health care system and across the country,” said Smith. “We’ve all been fighting for so hard for so long, and today, it feels like we almost have a small ray of hope and a little more sunshine as we go about our work.”

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