NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar has been on the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic treating patients in New York City, and now, she's getting vaccinated for the illness alongside other front line medical workers.
Azar received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at NYU Langone Health, where she is a faculty member and sees patients.
"Honestly, there’s so much excitement you’d think that we were all lining up to go to a concert," said Azar. "The whole workforce at NYU, we're all here together. Nurses, patient-facing staff, anyone who takes care of patients is here, getting it. We’re all rolling up our sleeves and just excited to do it."
Azar encouraged others to get the vaccine as soon as it was offered to them, explaining that people may not be able to pick between the vaccine candidates, but saying that it doesn't matter much since they have reported the same efficacy and safety data.
"I think honestly, for the foreseeable future, the vaccine that you are offered is the one that you'll be able to get," she said.
Before getting the vaccine, Azar answered a series of questions from a nurse about recent treatments or immunizations and past allergic reactions.
When it came to getting the vaccine, it was no different than getting a flu shot: Azar noted that the vaccine is delivered with the same type of needle, and she had no reaction to getting the shot while she talked with TODAY's Craig Melvin and Dylan Dreyer.
"I'm excited," she said.
While the recently-approved vaccines may be a turning point in the epidemic, Azar said that it's important that people continue to follow safety precautions, like masking and social distancing, since researchers are still unsure if people will still transmit the coronavirus even after they've been immunized.
"Life is not going to look any different for me," she said. "...Even after you're able to get the vaccine, you're still doing everything the same. You're wearing a mask when you're not in your household, you're still keeping your distance, you're still washing your hands ... Until we get to that place where 70% of the country is immunized we can't make any assumptions about (transmission) and so my life will continue the way it is."
Azar said that beyond the vaccine, she is participating in a research trial that will help determine how long immunity from the vaccine lasts.
"In a population of our patients, for example, who are compromised, have compromised immune systems, do they even mount a good immune response, and how long does it last?" she said. "We volunteered as healthy controls, so I gave blood yesterday, I'll give blood again in four weeks, and I'll give blood again in six months to see how my immune cells responded to the vaccine and how long my immunity is compared to people who may not have as robust an immune response."