Lifespan doctor becomes first in RI to receive 2nd dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was administered to about twenty Lifespan healthcare workers on Saturday and about seventy more employees will receive it on Sunday.

The vaccine is only effective if you receive both doses and Pfizer the second dose comes about three weeks after the first.

Dr. Christian Arbelaez has been a superhero on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. Now he has a superpower — a shield.

“It’s just a moment that we’re all so thankful for,” he said.

He became the first person in Rhode Island to receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

That means in a week or so Dr. Arbelaez will be 95 percent immune from the virus he’s seen kill so many in his emergency room at Rhode Island Hospital — and even his uncle in Colombia two weeks ago.

But just like fictional superheroes he will stay behind a mask for now.

“I’m going to continue doing the same things that I’m doing. The mask. The social distancing. Keeping my circle small,” he said.

Don’t get it wrong — Dr. Arbelaez feels a huge relief with the vaccine.

“Oh, I do. This is the best birthday present ever. My birthday was on New Year’s Eve. I do have that peace of mind and I think a lot of frontline workers as you’ve seen on social media just taking those selfies. This is one step closer for us to be able to be healthy so we can take care of the community and the patients that come into our hospitals,” he said.

He’s the first, but not the only healthcare worker to get the second shot this weekend. Several other Lifespan workers were due for their second dose after getting the first one on December 14.

“The best part of it, though, I’ll tell you, is I had a lot of colleagues who said that because they saw me get it, they were going to get it, and so they were right on the fence and they were leaning now towards getting their vaccination and that just warmed my heart,” Arbelaez said.

He wants to reach out to the Latino community and communities of color, who may be hesitant to trust the guidance.

“Siguen cuidando. Usen la mascara, mantenga la distancia,” he said.

Also on Saturday, Central Falls held another vaccine drive offering residents in the high risk community to get the shot, as long as they signed up ahead of time.

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