KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Kansas City Veteran Affairs Medical Centers started vaccinating frontlines workers against coronavirus.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said VA Chief of Staff Ahmad Batrash. “So, definitely very excited to have it finally.”

The VA received 1,700 vaccines Tuesday morning. It plans to give 1,000 doses to staff and 700 to veterans.

“Because of our veteran population, the conditions that they have based on their service, which often for them means they have multiple medical conditions, we certainly have a focus on it,” said Medical Center director David Isaacks. “That’s why we’re going to start to administer to that high-risk population within the first dose.”

Doctors and nurses told us about their sleepless nights and caring for veterans who had to say their final goodbyes on an iPad.

Dr. Sharad Mathur is the Chief of Pathology at the VA. He’s is charge of running the lab responsible for staff and veteran Covid tests.

“There are days that the list is very long and those are unfortunate days and we hope that people take this very seriously and take the precautions they need to,” said Mathur. “To make that list as short as possible.”

Today marks a turn for frontline workers at the VA.

“Hopefully if they see enough healthcare professionals and nurses be the first ones to volunteer to take the vaccine, others will be reassured to do the same,” said registered nurse Erika Cook.

Emergency Department director Dr. Joseph McDonnell said even with a vaccine, our habits shouldn’t change for the time being.

“It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop wearing a mask. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop social distancing. It does not mean that I’m not going to continue to avoid groups of people. McDonnell family Christmas is going to be me, my wife, and my two kids and zoom.”

The VA plans to vaccinate the first veteran Wednesday morning, just two days before Christmas. The 102-year-old World War Two veteran will travel about 50 miles to the VA Medical Center for his vaccine.

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