A New York City intensive care unit nurse on Monday became the first person in the United States to receive a coronavirus vaccine, saying she felt “healing is coming,” as the nation’s COVID-19 death toll crossed a staggering 300,000 lives lost.
Sandra Lindsay, who has treated some of the sickest COVID-19 patients for months, was inoculated at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in the New York City borough of Queens, an early epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, receiving applause on a livestream with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” Lindsay said. “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.
“I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe,” she added.
“This is what heroes look like,” Cuomo wrote in the caption of a photo of Lindsay, wearing a mask and staring resolutely ahead, that he posted on Twitter.
Similar scenes played out at select hospitals in other cities, including Los Angeles, where California Governor Gavin Newsom applauded as a Kaiser Permanente emergency room nurse rolled up her sleeve for a needle jab on live television.
The made-for-TV events – the first U.S. coronavirus immunizations outside of clinical trials – were part of a broad campaign by public health authorities and political leaders to reassure Americans of the vaccine’s safety as they launched a national immunization program of unprecedented scope.
Developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE, the vaccine, given as two doses three weeks apart, won U.S. emergency-use authorization on Friday.
The vaccine’s arrival provided hope as the country passed 300,000 lives lost. Mounting COVID-19 hospitalizations – a record 109,000 patients reported on Monday alone – have strained healthcare systems to the breaking point, and more than 16 million U.S. coronavirus cases have been recorded to date.