An intensive care unit nurse became the first person in New York state to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, marking a pivotal turn in the U.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!”
Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York state, operates some of the select hospitals in the United States that were administering the country’s first inoculations of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outside trials on Monday.
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.
As of Monday, the United States had registered more than 16 million cases and nearly 300,000 deaths from the virus.
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.