The first people in America began receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine Monday morning.
The unprecedented vaccination effort began as the death toll from the virus neared 300,000, a milestone the U.S. surpassed Monday afternoon.
Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was the first person in New York to receive the shot.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” she said. Footage of her receiving the shot was livestreamed with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo making remarks.
“I feel hopeful today. Relieved. ... I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe,” Lindsay said.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we still need to continue to wear our masks, to social distance. I believe in science. As a nurse, my practice is guided by science, so I trust science,” she said. “I encourage everyone to take the vaccine.”
“First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!” President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after Lindsay received the shot.
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Saturday approved the Pfizer vaccine for Americans aged 16 and older as the company began rolling out vaccines from its distribution facility in Michigan. Redfield’s OK came a day after the Food and Drug Administration officially approved the vaccine for emergency use.
An initial round of about 3 million shots will be shipped out, with the first doses earmarked for health care workers and nursing home residents, The Associated Press reported. Trucks were set to deliver the vaccine to 145 distribution centers across the U.S. by Monday, with an additional 425 sites on Tuesday, and 66 remaining sites on Wednesday.
News media around the country showed footage of trucks delivering the vaccines to distribution points Monday. Methodist Dallas Medical Center was the first in North Texas to receive the vaccine and planned to start vaccinating staff. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted that a “limited” supply of doses had arrived in North Carolina. Boston Medical Center received its doses, among other places.
The vaccine rollout presents an unprecedented challenge in terms of both logistics and public messaging. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at super-cold temperatures and is packed in dry ice for transport.
Once the vaccine is transported correctly, people need to take it. Public opinion on the issue is in flux, with some Americans enthusiastic about taking a vaccine, some refusing to do so, and a middle group who seem willing but want more information.
Another vaccine by Moderna, which works in a similar way to the Pfizer vaccine, is set to be discussed for approval by the FDA this week.
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