Dr Antonio Gomez: The First Shot

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When Dr. Antonio Gomez became the first in San Francisco to receive a COVID vaccine shot it was, Lights! Camera! Action! But now the hard work of getting shots to underserved communities is front and center.

I pulled up my sleeve and tried to ignore the cameras, but there were a lot of them. Plexiglas separated me from the nurse. I imagined being a fish in a fishbowl.

His hands were shaking as he drew up the vaccine. I think he felt all the attention and historic nature of the first COVID vaccine administered in San Francisco. It was almost nine months since we had locked down to get a handle on this terrible pandemic.

Once the needle was ready, I looked away, because I didn’t want him to feel the pressure of my gaze.

People clapped. Pictures were taken. I sat in the monitoring area for the requisite 15 minutes, watching as four of my colleagues got their injection, had their picture taken, and each received a round of applause.

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In that moment, the sense of hope and relief in the room was palpable. A light at the end of the tunnel. Even though we have so much more work to do before we get there, the vaccine is the first true beacon of hope to this point in the pandemic. It reenergizes us.

The rest of that week was a whirlwind with media requests left and right. Because I am fluent in Spanish and work at San Francisco GeneraI, it was important to me to do Spanish‐language interviews and speak directly to the community most affected by the pandemic – Latinx people. Having worked in this community for more than 20 years, I know there is power in seeing and hearing a physician reassure the community that the vaccine is safe, effective and the best way to ensure the safety of the community. I want people to hear, in Spanish, from someone who reviewed the data, talked to experts, understood what he was putting in his arm and took the vaccine without reservation.

Tomé la vacuna. Fui el primero en San Francisco y quiero que todos en esta comunidad tengan la misma oportunidad. Revisé los datos antes de tomarlo. Hablé con los expertos sobre esto, entendí lo que estaba poniendo en mi hombro y quiero asegurarles que es seguro y eficaz. Por favor, cuando sea su turno, tome la vacuna. Ayude a mantener la salud de nuestras familias, amigos, y toda nuestra comunidad, a salvo del COVID‐19.

With a Perspective, I’m Dr. Antonio Gomez.

Dr. Antonio Gomez is medical director of critical care services at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.