(KRON) – Wednesday marks the two-year anniversary of when the first COVID-19 shots rolled out in the Bay Area.

The first batches of COVID-19 vaccines in California arrived and were rushed to those in critical need including hospital workers caring for the sick and those in nursing homes. “It was a gift. We were having 24 simultaneous outbreaks happening in our skilled nursing homes. Every single day, I was seeing deaths coming across the desk and that was (a) traumatic experience,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County public health officer.

A surge of COVID-19 cases shut down schools, businesses and other daily activities for more than a year. “I can’t imagine what the consequences would have been of this pandemic (had) we had to have waited another year or even two years. It really mitigated the damage,” said Dr. Willis.

The latest state figures show nearly 70,000 people who died from COVID in the last two years. State health officials said the numbers would have been far higher if COVID-19 vaccines never rolled out.

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Now public health clinics are shutting down this week. The demand has diminished with many going to their doctor’s office or local pharmacy for a shot. Medical experts said although we have come a long way, COVID-19 is not gone and must still be dealt with seriously.

“It was a gift. It was miraculous really. It remains our most effective tool,” added Dr. Willis.