By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – Pfizer now says it’s just “days away” from applying for federal approval of its potential COVID-19 vaccine. That means Massachusetts healthcare workers are only weeks away from possibly getting it.

“I think healthcare workers should definitely be the first in line,” said nursing student Natalia Pulaski, who works at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“We do work with patients who have COVID and potential COVID,” said her fellow nursing student Nancy Tsang. “Some are very hesitant about it because we know vaccines take a while to develop, and I think that they went very quick with this one.”

Nursing student Nancy Tsang said some healthcare workers are hesitant to get a potential COVID vaccine. (WBZ-TV)

“We clearly do not want to become a test cohort, or you know, an experiment,” said nurse Marie Ritacco, who’s vice president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “We’d like to see healthcare workers and those vulnerable populations offered the vaccine first, but we would like nurses be able to volunteer to take it, but not be mandated,” she said.

“It was not hard to find volunteers, and I’m hoping when the vaccines come out, they will be generally accepted,” said Dr. Robert Finberg of UMass Medical School. He headed a study using hundreds of volunteers for Pfizer in Worcester. “The worst side effects we saw were really related to sore arms and headaches. That was the worst thing we saw. Generally, it’s very well tolerated,” he said.

Pfizer’s pacing is competitive with Cambridge-based Moderna, which announced Monday that its vaccine candidate is 95.4% effective, and on a similar timetable.

Christina Hager

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