CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The COVID-19 vaccine arrived at healthcare systems in central Illinois Wednesday.

Carle healthcare officials said the plan is to administer the vaccine to frontline workers — those who work directly with patients who have COVID-19 — this week at Carle Richland Memorial Hospital and Carle Foundation Hospital.

Staff with Memorial Healthcare System and HSHS St. Mary’s in Decatur held press conferences to celebrate their shipments arriving Wednesday as well.

Memorial’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Rajesh Govindaiah, called the moment historic and praised the quick pace of research and vaccine development.

“This is an amazing development — the development of a vaccine in less than 12 months,” he said Wednesday. “To go from a novel disease to a disease we’re learning about to developing a vaccine — getting a safe and incredibly effective vaccine through the FDA approval process — and now into the arms of people in our community is amazing. And so this is really —this is about the happiest, I’ve been in 2020.”

Totals doses of the vaccine allotted to the healthcare system — which includes locations in Springfield, Decatur, Taylorville and others — numbered in the hundreds per location.

Dr. Gupreet Mander, of HSHS St. Mary’s, also celebrated the arrival, but added that “it takes several weeks, and then ultimately, a couple of months until we build immunity from the vaccine.”

“On top of that, you need to have a significant portion of the population vaccinated to create herd immunity,” he said. “And that is going to take months — a fairly long period of time, based on the current number of vaccines being produced.”

At this time, Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) is not requiring its workers to receive the vaccination, although they are recommending they receive the vaccine when it is available to them.