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First U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Given To A New Yorker

Covid-19 Vaccine
SCOTT HEINS/OFFICE OF GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO
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The first person in the U.S. to get the coronavirus vaccine is an ICU nurse in New York.

The nurse, Sandra Lindsay works in the critical care unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, located in Queens, and has for months been on the front lines of the pandemic. She got the shot on the governor’s web feed, which was carried by the news channels live.

“I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming,” Lindsay said. “I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo joined a livestream of the event, celebrating the first vaccination against the virus in New York, which has experienced more deaths related to COVID-19 than any other state in the country.

As of Monday, more than 35,000 deaths had been recorded in New York from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“I know how horrific it was. It was a modern day battlefield,” Cuomo said before Lindsay received the vaccine. “What you do, showing up every day, you really are heroes.”

The first of thousands of doses of the vaccine arrived in New York Monday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for public use over the weekend.

Shipments of the Pfizer vaccine departed Michigan over the weekend. The first of the vaccine’s two doses per person, given at least 3 weeks apart, are expected to be administered this week to high-risk health care workers and nursing homes residents across New York.

New York is expected to receive 170,000 doses of the first vaccine, developed by Pfizer. 26,500 doses have been allocated for the first round of distribution on Long Island.

Another 346,000 doses of a different version of the vaccine developed by Moderna are expected to arrive in the state next week, Cuomo told reporters last week. Both vaccines have touted efficacy rates above 90%.

Lindsay said she wanted to relay to the public that the vaccine was safe, and that it would be an important step toward the end of the pandemic.

“We are in a pandemic, and so we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic and to not give up so soon,” Lindsay said. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we still need to continue to wear our masks, to social distance. I believe in science. As a nurse, my practice is guided by science, and so I trust science.”

She said people still need to practice safety precautions, though like wearing masks and limiting in person interactions.

Cuomo calls the vaccine “the weapon that will end the war”. But he said it only works, if people take it.

“It’s going to take months before the vaccine hits critical mass,” Cuomo said. “So, this is the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel and we need people to continue to do the right thing and the smart thing all through the holiday season.”

Nursing home residents and health care workers, particularly those at risk of contracting the virus, will be first to receive the vaccine in New York, per the state’s plan for distributing the inoculation.

It will then be administered to frontline workers and other individuals considered to be high-risk of contracting the disease. The general population isn’t expected to receive the vaccine for at least a few months, but an exact timeline will depend on the supply of the injection.

Cuomo’s launched a campaign in recent months to urge members of the public to trust the vaccine, which has been criticized at times for being rushed through the clinical process during a contentious election year.

The latest data, reported by the state Sunday, showed more than 5,400 people hospitalized with the virus in New York — more than ten times the number recorded in August.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.