Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear speaks to the media as the first delivery of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrives at University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Ky., Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The new COVID-19 vaccine arrived at an Appalachian hospital in eastern Kentucky, and medical workers received the first injections.

The Pikeville Medical Center was one of a handful of regional hospitals to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Tuesday, along with hospitals in Corbin, Madisonville in western Kentucky, Edgewood in northern Kentucky and UK Chandler Hospital in Lexington.

Dr. Fadi Al Akhrass, Pikeville Medical's infectious disease specialist, received the first injection at the hospital during a live-streamed news conference Tuesday afternoon. Al Akrass urged the public to have confidence in the vaccine.

“I’m a true believer that this is going to be our only option, and it’s going to be an amazing option to turn around this pandemic,” he said.

The hospital, which was required to have facilities for ultra-cold storage, received 975 doses meant for medical workers. Gov. Andy Beshear displayed pictures of the vaccine arriving at Chandler Hospital and other medical centers on Tuesday during his daily coronavirus briefing.

“These photos are incredible,” Beshear said. “They give us hope.”

A Louisville hospital received the first Kentucky shipment of the vaccine Monday.

Health care workers are first in line for the vaccine, but about 25,000 doses from the first batch to Kentucky will be dedicated to vaccinating people in long-term care facilities. Gov. Andy Beshear said he hopes to have the entire long-term care population vaccinated within two months.

If Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is approved by the federal government soon, it could begin arriving early next week and would provide doses to several other acute care hospitals in the state, Beshear said.

Kentucky reported 15 newly deaths and 2,946 new confirmed cases of the virus Tuesday, for a total of about 228,000 since the pandemic began in March.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator, visited Kentucky on Tuesday and met with Beshear and legislative leaders.

Beshear said Birx was encouraged by the state's plan to begin vaccinating long-term care populations as soon as possible.