More than 1,200 people, mostly 65 and older, received their first Covid-19 vaccines from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital this week in a remarkably smooth rollout after what seemed an interminable wait.

The hospital’s online appointment system was not without its hiccups, but they were minor. Some Islanders complained they were unable to get an appointment despite logging on early Saturday to the hospital’s website. Any misstep in the signup process brought the unlucky to a page that showed a beating red heart.

With an estimated four times as many eligible people competing for the opening week’s slots, it should be no surprise that some will have to wait another week or two to be vaccinated. And hospital officials said this week they have tweaked the system in advance of opening up a new batch of appointments this Saturday morning at 8.

At the hospital, the check-in process was flawless. Parking attendants directed traffic. Greeters helped arrivals sanitize their hands and don masks. Intake workers made short work of registration. A socially distanced queue moved quickly into a room where vaccines were administered cheerfully and efficiently. A waiting room monitor ensured that the vaccinated did not suffer any complications for 15 minutes after receiving their shots.

With grim stories and video on the nightly news showing long lines elsewhere for limited doses of the vaccine, Vineyarders should once again count themselves fortunate indeed. Thanks in part to the availability of asymptomatic testing by TestMV and the public schools, the Island has weathered the pandemic so far with no reported deaths. By the end of this week, about a quarter of the Island’s population will have been vaccinated.

Just a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the increasing availability of vaccines to prevent its spread is a medical miracle, even as their rollout has felt unbearably slow. And with the threat of new vaccine-resistant variants, the danger is not over. But knowing that a large percentage of Islanders will soon be protected against its worst effects, there is light at the end of a long tunnel.

On the Vineyard and nationwide, new Covid-19 infections have been dropping. This week, Island health officials recorded the lowest 14-day case rate since before Thanksgiving.

This has been school vacation week, and as families return from off-Island, they are urged to follow Centers for Disease Control guidance: take advantage of the TestMV to get tested and self-quarantine for seven days after returning home.

Thanks are due to the hospital and public health officials, but also to community members who have observed the simple rules of mask-wearing and social distancing to keep each other safe. There are cold months ahead, but the future is beginning to look brighter.