An intensive care unit nurse became the first person in the US to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, marking a pivotal turn in the country’s effort to control the deadly virus.
Sandra Lindsay, who has treated some of the sickest COVID-19 patients for months, was given the vaccine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in the New York City borough of Queens, an early epicenter of the country’s COVID-19 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.”
Minutes after Lindsay received the injection, President Donald Trump sent a tweet: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”
The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, won emergency-use approval from federal regulators on Friday after it was found to be 95% effective in preventing illness in a large clinical trial.
The first 2.9 million doses began to be shipped to distribution centers around the country on Sunday, just 11 months after the United States documented its first COVID-19 infections.
Health officials in Texas, Utah, South Dakota, Ohio and Minnesota said they also anticipated the first doses of the vaccine would be received at select hospitals on Monday and be administered right away.
Later this week, the FDA will decide whether to green-light the world’s second rigorously studied COVID-19 vaccine, made by Moderna Inc.
While the US hopes for enough of both vaccines together to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of the month, there won’t be enough for the average person to get a shot until spring.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a long tunnel,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Covid-19 fatalities are nearing 300,000 in the US, which has by far the world’s highest death toll. Deaths have been rising sharply since November and the number of people in hospital with the disease has also continued to grow steadily, with more than 109,000 people currently admitted, according to the Covid Tracking Project.