A nurse in Queens became the first person in the nation Monday morning to receive the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine, in an extraordinary moment of hope after a devastating year.
After more than nine months of battling the coronavirus and tirelessly working to save lives, high-risk physicians and nurses directly treating patients infected with the virus will be the first outside of clinical trials to get the Pfizer vaccine, which arrived in the state this morning.
Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Glen Oaks, rolled up her sleeve and received the shot on live television.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine," Lindsay said.
Lindsay has treated coronavirus patients since the outbreak began in New York.
"I feel like healing is coming," Lindsay said. "I hope this marks the beginning to the end of the very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We're in a pandemic so we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic. I believe in science. As a nurse, my practice is guided by science, so I trust science. What I don't trust is that if I contract COVID I don't know how it will impact me or those who I come in contact with."
"This is the light of 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,"said Gov. Andrew Cuomo who took part in the extraordinary moment via livestream.
"I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you do," Cuomo said to Lindsay after she received the shot. "When they use the word heroes, we don't mean that lightly; we mean it deeply and sincerely. What you do showing up everyday, you really are heroes."
Dr. Yves Duroseau, the chair of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, was the second New Yorker to get the shot, less than two hours after Lindsay.
“Today is a major significant day of hope, and this is what’s going to carry us through," said Duroseau. “Everyone was waiting for this day; this day could not have come soon enough.”
Duroseau, who has been on the frontlines treating patients for months, shared how the virus has personally affected his life and urged Americans to continue taking safety precautions.
“Unfortunately, I had someone in my family who I lost, my dear uncle, and I have someone right now currently in the hospital, a family member, so this continues, and the way to stop this is through the vaccination,” said yves. “We cannot continue to have 3,000 people die a day, this has to stop.”
President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the first shot was given to Lindsay.
First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020
More health care workers will be vaccinated throughout the day. New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said during a press briefing with Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday morning that the vaccine will arrive at five hospitals in the city today, followed by 37 on Tuesday, and two more on Wednesday.
“The vaccine will be given out from this day forward, from this day forward the vaccine will be distributed and we will turn the tide of the coronavirus,” said de Blasio. “Today is a day to celebrate."
"When I saw the needle go into the nurses arm I just felt this welling up of hope, an amazing sense of we're actually turning the corner, it's actually here," de Blasio added, explaining how he felt while watching the moment unfold.
In addition to health care workers, nursing home staff and residents are also at the top of the list to get the vaccine.
New York City is currently preparing to receive and administer 465,000 doses over the next three weeks.
The plan is to first administer the doses to those at greatest risk of contracting the virus. The health commissioner said that in early 2021, the hope is to have enough vaccine supply to expand the circle to begin giving shots to those who live in the 27 neighborhoods that were hit the hardest by the coronavirus.
The city’s Vaccine Command Center is opening simultaneously on Monday to ensure all aspects of vaccination are covered.
“The city has never seen this level of effort,” Deputy Mayor Melanie Hartzog told NY1 in an exclusive interview.
The hub will manage vaccination efforts across the board — from distribution and storage to data collection and real-time troubleshooting. It is a collaborative effort across all city agencies, like the department of education and NYCHA, not just the health department and city Health + Hospitals.
“What we’re not doing is waiting for planning. So we are stress-testing all of our distribution efforts, we’re thinking really critically about how we leverage all of our operations including our Test & Trace Corps that stood up at the height of the pandemic and is now a trusted partner in communities,” Hartzog said.
As the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are administered in New York, the city’s Vaccine Command Center is opening simultaneously Monday to ensure all aspects of vaccination are covered. “The city has never seen this level of effort,” said Deputy Mayor Melanie Hartzog. pic.twitter.com/6XynIK9Mwj— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) December 14, 2020
The command center will also ensure equity in vaccinations and promises transparency with the public.
“We really want to start working with communities around ensuring that they feel comfortable with the vaccination. There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Hartzog.
The command center is tapping the city’s task force on racial inclusion and equality to address disparities and meet the needs of those most impacted by coronavirus.