In a history-making moment, director of emergency room medicine Dr. Karen Casper — who has battled the virus since March on the Island’s front lines — received the Island’s first dose of coronavirus vaccine early Thursday morning.

Environmental services worker Sandy Carvalho received the second shot. — Jeanna Shepard

Sandy Carvalho, an environmental services worker for the hospital, received the second shot. The shots were administered by hospital nurse practitioner Marcy Holmes.

“I’m so blessed,” Ms. Carvalho said in a short video taken by Gazette photographer Jeanna Shepard after the vaccine was administered. “I’m so happy for the vaccine coming to the Island. It will help, many, many people here.”

The moment marked both a literal and figurative shot in the arm for hospital staff in their nine-month battle against a virus that has infected more than 400 Vineyard residents, left nearly a dozen hospitalized and transformed nearly every aspect of daily life on the Island.

Ms. Shepard’s video captured a joyous and emotional hospital staff Thursday morning, with many rounds of applause, thumbs-ups and excitement as they gathered in the hospital’s lobby — transformed into a vaccination station.

The first shipment of 40 vaccines arrived by ferry Wednesday, and will be given to front-lines hospital staff throughout the day. A second shipment of 45 vaccines is set to arrive next week, hospital officials said.

The Pfizer vaccine comes in two doses, with the second dose administered about 21 days after the first. Windermere, the Island’s only long-term care and nursing facility, will receive vaccinations for its staff and residents through a federal program later in the month.

Ms. Carvalho: “I’m so happy for the vaccine coming to the Island. It will help, many, many people here.” — Jeanna Shepard

But on Thursday, hospital staff, surrounded by Margot Datz murals, history and catharsis, were merely excited to celebrate a rare moment of light as virus infections continue to surge at the onset of winter and a mixture of snow and sleet fell outside.

Dr. Casper had trouble putting into words her emotions about receiving the vaccine in a follow-up interview.

“It’s epic. It’s being a part of history,” Dr. Casper said. “I can’t believe we are actually here and have the vaccine, and how lucky and fortunate we are that we were all able to work together.”

Dr. Casper has treated Covid-19 patients in the hospital’s emergency department for the past nine months. She said the vaccine would give her an added level of safety.

“I’ve worked with quite a few Covid patients,” Dr. Casper said. “I’m going to continue to use my PPE, but I do feel like I have one more layer of protection. And that’s exciting.”

Ms. Carvalho, who is Brazilian and has worked at the hospital for 19 years, said she was looking toward the future when she could see her family in South America once again.

“I have a big plan for next year to go to Brazil,” she said. “I hope the rest of my family can get the vaccine too.”

The vaccines were delivered by Ms. Carvalho's son, Valci Carvalho, who works as a pharmacist at the hospital.

Ms. Carvalho has lived on the Island for 20 years. She thanked her co-workers and expressed joy for an Island that has been hit hard in the past months.

“I’m so glad I can take the vaccine,” Ms. Carvalho said. “And I’m so glad for the Island to take the vaccine too. I love this Island.”

Article updated to include quotes from Dr. Casper. 

More pictures.