MIAMI — A battle in the war against COVID-19 was launched in Miami on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Seventy-five doses of the Pfizer vaccine were administered to frontline caregivers at Integris Miami Hospital, with another 75 on Friday — with no significant reactions.

Dr. Clark Osborn, a family medicine physician, and emergency room nurse Cory Reeves were the first two to receive the injections in Miami.

“As a health care professional, I feel like it’s my responsibility to take the vaccine so we can eradicate this terrible disease that has caused so much illness and heartache in our community,” Reeves said. “I hope that by taking this vaccine my co-workers, family and community will see that is safe and effective.”

With the Pfizer vaccine as well as one for Moderna that was approved by a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel late Thursday, Osborn predicts that things could get back to semi-normal by July 4, 2021.

“It’s a tremendous thing,” Osborn said. “The nice thing is that this vaccine (Pfizer) is 90 to 95% effective at six weeks. You take the shots three weeks apart.”

He said the Moderna vaccine has been shown to be about 95% effective.

There are another two vaccines that could gain approval in January.

While the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius — colder than the temperatures in Antarctica — its thawed before being used, then mixed with a small amount of saline solution.

“The vast majority of my patients are anxious to take it once its available,” Osborn said. “It is a new vaccine — there are risks associated with any product, but I think you have to weigh the risk of having COVID-19 vs. the risks of taking the vaccine. I think the safest thing by far at this point is take the vaccine.”

Jonas Rabel, chief executive of Integris Miami, said, “we are very fortunate; blessed to be the first in NE Oklahoma to get the Pfizer vaccination. It’s a very exciting time.

“We do everything we can to protect our staff with masks, gowns, gloves and social distancing if it’s possible. Having the vaccine here and available to give to our caregivers is very exciting.”

Sam Ratermann, M.D., FAAFP, director of the hospitalist program at Integris Grove and president of Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians, called Thursday an early Christmas gift to himself, his family and the community.

“It will help keep me on the front lines caring for COVID patients, as well as other patients who are hospitalized,” he said during a press conference at Grove.