New York ICU Nurse Among First to Receive Authorized COVID-19 Vaccine

An ICU nurse in New York City was among the first to receive the historic COVID-19 vaccine.
Brad Bergan

A nurse working in critical care was the first person in New York (city and state) and among the first in the entire United States to receive the first of the two-course dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, according to an initial report from CNN.

The FDA granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer vaccine last Friday, with millions of doses expected across the country.


New York ICU nurse among first to receive authorized COVID-19 vaccine

The ICU nurse — Sandra Lindsay — is stationed at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York City. She received the vaccine during a live video broadcast at roughly 9:20 AM EST on Monday. The corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health Michelle Chester administered the shot.

"She has a good touch, and it didn't feel any different than taking any other vaccine," said Lindsay in the immediate aftermath, according to the CNN report.

"I'm feeling well. I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues who have been doing a yeoman's job to fight this pandemic all over the world, continued Lindsay. "I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history."

UPDATE Dec. 14, 11:50 AM EST: Highly-symbolic moment in fight to end COVID-19 pandemic

The vaccine kit to inject the shot "worked perfectly," said Chester, reports CNN. Both Lindsay and Chester are Black women, and while on stage they were flanked by President and CEO of Northwell Health Michael Dowling — who said the regional hospital system had seen more than 100,000 patients with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

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While the vaccine took mere seconds to administer, the shot is endemic of a pivotal moment in the history of the country and the world: a symbolic victory for the speed and rigor of scientific progress, in addition to one recognizing the world-historic burden health care workers have carried for most of the year. New York City was long the epicenter of the global pandemic, and — with two Black women taking center stage — the injection also represents a reification of the nation's focus on issues of race and gender.

UPDATE Dec. 11, 11:55 AM EST: Millions of Americans to follow Lindsay's lead

Naturally, there's more than symbolic value to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. With this shot — along with a second dose in 21 days — Lindsay will finally be able to visit her family with less fear of catching or spreading the virus, in addition to visiting her friends, colleagues, and patients.

If the COVID-19 vaccine works as planned, millions of Americans may follow Lindsay's lead.

"This is a special moment, a special day," said Dowling. "This is what everybody has been waiting for."

UPDATE Dec. 14, 12:00 PM EST: State, local authorities to decide who gets COVID-19 vaccine, when

This comes on the heels of several other countries' authorization of the same vaccine for immediate distribution and administration to the populace. The United Kingdom approved the Pfizer/BioNTech recently, and 21,720 people have already received the vaccine as part of its Phase 3 trials to test for efficacy.

Regardless, Lindsay is among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since the FDA gave approval for emergency use, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared their "okay to go" for the treatment to be administered to everyone 16 and older.

In the U.S., state and local authorities must come to their own decision regarding who will receive the vaccine, and when. The CDC has suggested frontline health care workers and long-term care facility residents as first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine, but only time will tell how the final distribution develops.

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