'I can see the finish line': Healthcare workers emotional as vaccine rollout underway in Minnesota

Workers at M Health Fairview received the vaccine on Saturday. (FOX 9)

It was an emotional day on Saturday at M Health Fairview where staff joined more than 900 other healthcare workers in receiving the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I said this before that the first reason I did this was for my patients -- to protect them," said registered nurse Patti Jones. "And then it’s kind of my friends and family and the community."

"I’ve been a nurse for 30 years and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my career," Jones said of the pandemic.

"A few months ago, I was worried that this marathon wasn’t going to end but today I feel like it’s going to end," added Dr. Andrew Olson. "I can see the finish line."

The state says its first supply of more than 40,000 doses will be given to people who are at the highest risk. Healthcare workers make up for nearly 10 percent of the state’s more than 394,000.

Nurses and doctors, who often put themselves last, say they hope that being among the first to receive the vaccine will inspire those who are hesitant to take it.

"A little nervous at first because it was so quick in development but I think if you walked in the units and you saw what we see, you wouldn’t second guess it at all," said Jones. "I’m just proud to be here."

A spokesperson for the hospital says vaccines will be administered through the weekend to vaccinate as many employees as possible. She adds that the hospital hopes to make the vaccine available to high-risk patients in 2021 when supplies are available.