A doctor in Los Angeles, Calif., who says he was the first to receive the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine at the medical center where he works hopes to help others who may be wary of receiving the jab to feel confident doing so.
"I was very fortunate to be the first person to receive the vaccine at Northridge Hospital Medical Center," Dr. Imran Sharief, a pulmonary disease specialist, told Fox News.
The jab was "no different than any other vaccine I have received," he added, noting that after he received the shot at 6 a.m. Dec. 17, he went about his day "doing [his] usual work in the intensive care unit, taking care of COVID-19-impacted patients."
By that evening, Sharief said he had a low-grade fever and some chills – said to be common side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency use approval in the U.S., as well as signs the body is building an immunity to the virus.
The doctor said he took two Tylenol before going to bed. In the few days after receiving the shot, Sharief said he’s been feeling well, adding he is "full of energy and has been working [his] regular working hours."
"Since the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine and review of the data – the vaccine is found to be very safe – I have been waiting for this moment," he said of getting the shot. "This was history-making and I am filled with joy."
The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines – both of which have received emergency use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the latter of which received it Friday – have proven safe and effective, showing more than 90% effective in late-stage clinical trials.
Sharief told Fox News that such efficacy is "unheard of."
"[There are] no major side effects. I took the vaccine first to make sure there are no issues," adding he hopes to be a "role model for the community" in receiving the jab.
Sharief encouraged others to "take the vaccine to defeat COVID-19, and we can go back to [living] a normal life."
"There is a lot of false information about the vaccine on social media. Please listen to experts only or talk to your doctor," he suggested.
"The vaccine is our main weapon against COVID-19," he added.
Top infectious disease experts have said that at least 75% of the population will need to receive the vaccine to achieve herd immunity and ultimately see a return to normalcy. In the meantime, Sharief said to continue taking precautions against the virus.
"I request everyone to continue to wear a face mask and [practice] social distancing. No large gatherings, and take all precautions, such as cleaning your workplace, your home, your car, your computer, your keys and more for the next six months," at least, he said.
"This pandemic has caused so much damage to humanity. Now we have the answer to win this war against COVID-19," added Sharief.