By Andria Borba

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – After the COVID-19 pandemic brought the Bay Area and the world to its knees, relief came one year ago Tuesday, as the first doses of the vaccine went into healthcare workers.

This time last year, ICUs were filling up with a post-Thanksgiving surge of COVID-19 patients. On December 14, 2020, the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine went into arms to tears and applause.

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“I think it was a truly seminal moment – when we all celebrated the rapid development. We celebrated the science. We celebrated how much we had suffered to that point for all of those months,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of UCSF recalled.

As shots trickled out of factories, onto cargo planes and into ultra cold storage freezers, there was at first scarcity — not enough shots for everyone who wanted them. Scarcity of the doses in the spring was eventually replaced by hesitancy about doses in the summer.

After that, came the rise of the Delta variant, a development that broke the hearts of doctors and nurses on the frontline and continues to.

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“More heartbreaking than one year ago, because we didn’t have a solution out of it. But we do have a solution, it’s just that not everybody is using it,” Chin-Hong told KPIX 5.

With another holiday season upon us and the appearance of the Omicron variant, people told KPIX 5 that they do feel safer than last winter.

“For sure. Being vaccinated, it definitely helps,” said Chantal Zahrendt.

With the rise of the new variant and waning immunity, Chin-Hong said the time to get a booster is now, especially if you are over 65.

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“We are seeing breakthrough infections turning into hospitalizations,” he said.