Coronavirus News: New York City critical care nurse given first COVID vaccine in the US

Coronavirus Update for New York

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
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Lucy Yang has the latest on the distribution of the COVID vaccine in the Tri-State, but reports the governor and mayor both warn of a new shutdown.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The director of critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ) in Queens has become the first person in the United States to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in a non-trial setting.

Sandra Lindsay, RN, received the vaccine just after 9 a.m. Monday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo looked on from Albany via livestream.

"The person who is going to take the first vaccine in the state of New York, maybe the first vaccine shot in the United States, Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse, it's a pleasure to be with you," Cuomo said. "And you are in Long Island Jewish Medical Center, which is in Queens. Good things come from Queens."

Raw video of vaccination:

About two minutes after Lindsay received the shot, President Trump tweeted "First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!"

"She's been on the frontlines, how fitting that she was the first to get the vaccine, administered by Dr. Michelle Chester," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. He also called it, "a beautiful moment."

The CEO of Northwell Health, Michael Dowling, said it was especially important that the vaccine be given at that hospital as it had treated more than 100,000 COVID patients.

"And this facility, Long Island Jewish was right at the center. And here at Northwell, you know, we've seen well over 100,000, COVID patients. And at one point back in April, we had over 3,500 patients in our hospitals," he said.

Watch the entire press conference and vaccination

After receiving the vaccine and a round of applause, Lindsay spoke out about receiving the shot.

"I'm feeling well. I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues who've been all over the world. I hopeful, I feel hopeful today. Relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning or the end of a very painful time in our history," she said. "I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We're in a pandemic. And so we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic. And to not give up so soon, there is 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. And so I trust that. What I don't trust is that if I contract COVID, I don't know how it's going to affect me or those I come in contact with. So, I encourage everyone to take the vaccine."

The governor then thanked Lindsay for taking the vaccine and for all of the hard work that she and her colleagues at the hospital have done to help treat COVID patients.

"So God bless you. I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you do. Everybody knows. Everybody knows how brave you are and skilled and talented and selfless. When they use the word heroes, we don't mean that lightly. We mean it deeply and sincerely," Cuomo said.

An hour later, Lenox Hill Dr. Yves Duroseau claimed his spot as the first doctor vaccinated.

"It felt great, it didn't feel any different than any other vaccination I've received in the past," Dr. Duroseau said.

Frontline staff at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan is also set to receive the vaccine starting at 2 p.m.

The vaccine is now arriving at 44 New York hospitals, including LIJ and Lenox Hill, with access to special ultra cold freezers.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius, and once thawed, it must be used within a few hours. It cannot be refrozen.

"We can store millions of vaccines in the freezers that we have. We were prepared for this," a hospital spokesperson said.

But will others roll up their sleeves? Doctors are concerned that Americans of color, among the hardest hit by the virus, may hesitate to take the shot.

Said Lindsay: "We've been heavily affected and so I encourage everyone that looks like me, everyone around the world to take the vaccine," she said.

RELATED: New York prepares for first shipments of Pfizer's COVID vaccine

Cuomo has announced hospital workers deemed high risk are the first in line to receive the vaccine, followed by nursing home workers and residents next week.

Essential workers who interact with the public, like teachers and firefighters, are next.

The general public may not see the vaccine until February.

RELATED: Gov. Murphy says NJ's 1st COVID vaccines to be administered Tuesday

De Blasio says he will prioritize hard-hit neighborhoods.

"We are adamant that we will not distribute this vaccine according to who has the most wealth, privilege or celebrity," de Blasio said. "We will distribute according to which community needs it most.... We're going to spread this vaccine to all who need it quickly, effectively as only NYC can do."

COVID NYC Update: Indoor dining to shut down again in NYC Monday

Pfizer started developing this vaccine in January, and now, less than a year later - following last week's authorization by the FDA - it is in hospitals.

The chief pharmacy officer at Mount Sinai Health System calls this nothing short of a miracle. Moderna's COVID vaccine could receive FDA approval by the end of this week.

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