“It is with deep pride and a deep sense of responsibility that I got the vaccine today. A small gesture but a fundamental gesture for all of us,” said Claudia Alivernini, as she received the jab at Rome's Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases on Sunday morning.
“Today is the beginning of the end as regards the infection, even if the road will still be long.”
Professor Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, laboratory director of virology at the Spallanzani Institute, received a jab at the same time as Alivernini.
Social health worker Omar Altobelli also received one of the first three injections.
The hospital was the first to isolate the coronavirus in Italy, and has been at the centre of Italy's fight against the coronavirus outbreak since the first positive cases were discovered
in Italy in January.
Around 9,750 doses have already arrived in Italy and another 470,000 are expected to arrive from next week, the health ministry said.
Italy's national coronavirus commissioner Domenico Arcuri hailed the start of vaccinations as an important symbolic moment for Europe's battle against the pandemic.
“Today is a symbolic day which must give the idea of the beauty of Europe that has bought the vaccines for everybody and distributed them,” he said.
EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen hailed the campaign start as a “touching moment of unity and a European success story”.
In a sign of impatience, some EU countries began vaccinating on Saturday, a day before the official start, with a 101-year-old woman in a care home becoming the first person in Germany to be inoculated and Hungary and Slovakia also handing out their first shots
Countries are also showing different strategies in their vaccination targeting, with Italy focusing on health workers, France the elderly and in the Czech Republic the prime minister himself was at the front of the queue.
Vaccines other than the Pfizer-BioNTech jab are also in the pipeline.
In the United States, where over a million people have already been vaccinated, last week began jabs with the vaccine developed by US biotech firm Moderna.
Meanwhile the University of Oxford and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca have applied to the UK authorities for permission to roll out their Covid-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said Sunday its vaccine was a “winning formula” and provided “100 percent protection” against severe Covid requiring hospitalisation