DENVER (CBS4) – On Wednesday, 10 National Jewish Health staff members were innoculated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Among them were several doctors who went to hospitals in New York City to help during the initial height of the pandemic.

While the doctors said it’s not time to let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19, they can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.

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There was applause for Dr. Amen Sergew as she accepted her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

“I’m really grateful,” she said.

Dr. Josh Solomon called the moment “historic.”

“I think it’s the biggest scientific breakthrough of our time,” Solomon said.

And Dr. Katie Hisert was moved.

“Everyone’s talking about the beginning of the end, and this is it,” she said.

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All three are pulmonary critical care physicians at National Jewish Health. All three work the front lines in Denver. Last April, they spent a week at Mt. Sinai Hospitals in New York, back when that city was the epicenter of the pandemic.

“The amount of people that were sick and dying, I think, is something that was eye opening,” Solomon told Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

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It was long hours in difficult situations, but Hisert described the people there strong, brave and caring.

“They would take the hand of the patient and they would say ‘You are not alone,'” explained Hisert.

Sergew said the experience made her more empathetic, more human. She said she found herself, “Passing them their phone or helping them make a phone call. The things that we typically are running around and feel we don’t have time for.”

The doctors say, for now, getting the vaccine doesn’t mean abandoning masks and caution when it comes to COVID, but… “It is hope,” said Hisert.

“It’s a little easier to go to work and work long hours when we know there’s an end in sight,” Solomon said.

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“A little more normalcy would really go a long way at this point,” said Sergew.

Kathy Walsh