(The Center Square) – A critical care registered nurse from a hospital in Queens became the first New Yorker – and possibly first American – to receive the COVID-19 vaccination Monday morning.
Sandra Lindsay received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccination around 9:21 am ET at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. The hospital was one of the medical facilities hit hardest by COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office livestreamed the event, with the governor watching from his office in Albany and applauding as Lindsay was injected.
Lindsay, who has been a nurse for more than 25 years and serves as the director of critical care services at the Northwell Health facility, said she wanted to take the vaccine to prove that it was safe.
“I would like to thank all the front-line workers, all my colleagues, who have been doing a yeoman’s job to fight this pandemic all over the world,” she said after receiving the shot. “I’m hopeful. I feel hopeful today. I’m relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history.”
As the first injection took place in New York, governors in Kentucky and Ohio were on hand at hospitals to watch the first deliveries of the vaccine in their respective states.
Under the Pfizer protocol, Lindsey will need to receive a second dose of the vaccine in three weeks to have full protection. Last month, the company announced that the vaccine had 95 percent effectiveness during the third phase of its trials.
Cuomo established an in-state panel to review the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency-use approval of the Pfizer vaccine. Once the state board gave its OK, the governor said the vaccine would be distributed to priority populations. Besides front-line health workers, nursing home residents and staff are considered the top priority.
New York expects to receive 170,000 doses of the vaccines during the first wave. In the coming weeks, it will start to receive additional doses of that vaccine as well as one developed by Moderna.
However, it will still take several months to get the vaccine to the public.
“The vaccine only works if the American people take it,” Cuomo said. “They estimate we need 75 percent to 85 percent of Americans to take the vaccine for it to be effective. So every American has to do their part.”
Even as vaccinations began in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city may see some more dire times in the coming weeks. Monday also marked the first day of a new shutdown on indoor dining in the city, which Cuomo ordered last week.
“Unfortunately, this is just one of a number of steps that I think are going to be needed,” de Blasio said on CNN prior to Lindsay’s vaccination, noting that Cuomo has said the city may need a “full pause” if hospitalization rates reach critical levels.
“We’re seeing the kind of level of infection with the coronavirus we haven’t seen since May,” he added.