Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood, administered the first of its vaccine doses on Dec. 18, and a couple of Riverside first responders were among those inoculated against COVID-19.

Loyola officials said they received 2,925 Pfizer vaccines on Dec. 17. Those will be distributed evenly between three Loyola Medicine hospitals: Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park and MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn.

“Today, having these vaccines is our first step in making sure that our Loyola Medicine community, the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois will be safer going into 2021,” said Dr. Neil Gupta, Loyola Medicine’s chief medical officer, during a press conference Friday morning.

Riverside Fire Chief Matthew Buckley and Lt. Dan Tabb, who also serves as Riverside’s public works director, were among the first responders who received Loyola’s initial doses on Friday. 

“We’re on the front lines every day responding to houses and helping our residents, and lately the numbers have been steadily increasing, so it’s very important for us to get vaccinated also, so we can respond appropriately and safely,” Buckley said. “There’s a lot of apprehension about receiving the vaccine, so I’m here to tell people it’s safe.”

Cheri Finke, a registered nurse at Loyola who heads up what became the hospital’s first COVID-19 unit, also took the vaccine.

“I’m really excited to be part of this,” Fine said. “I was in charge the day we were told we were going to be a COVID unit. [I still remember] the fear everyone had. It was palpable. This is kind of coming full circle, now that we’re the first to get the vaccine.”

Loyola officials said they’ll receive the vaccines as they become available from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

According to federal guidelines, frontline workers, health care providers and people who live and work in long-term care facilities will receive the vaccine first.

“Immunization will require two doses, spaced three-to-four weeks apart depending on the specific vaccine,” Loyola officials said in a statement.