NEW YORK (WABC) -- President Joe Biden will present the prestigious Medal of Freedom to the New York nurse who was the first person in the U.S. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sandra Lindsay was thrust into the international spotlight when she was vaccinated on live television on Dec.14, 2020.
Lindsay, a critical-care nurse who directs patient care services at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, used her instant fame to become an advocate for the vaccine and for health care workers.
Now, she will receive the nation's highest civilian honor, along with 16 other people, including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles and the late John McCain, the Arizona Republican with whom Biden served in the U.S. Senate.
Lindsay told Eyewitness News last year that easing fears and concerns surrounding the vaccine remains her true passion.
"I can't imagine where we would be if we didn't have this powerful tool to protect us," she said. "So encourage more and more people to protect themselves, and this is not just about you, but your loved ones and the communities in which you live."
She spoke of how the attention changed her life.
"Right after the shot, it was interviews and invitations to appear on different shows and platforms," she said. "I had the opportunity to be recognized at the White House by President Biden, went home to Jamaica, all that stuff this year, and met with the prime minister."
Now, she will be recognized again when Biden presents the medals at the White House next week.
Biden's honors list, which the White House shared first with the Associated Press, includes both living and deceased honorees from the worlds of Hollywood, sports, politics, the military, academia, and civil rights and social justice advocacy.
Biden himself is a medal recipient. President Barack Obama honored Biden's public service as a longtime U.S. senator and vice president by awarding him a Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 2017, a week before they left office.
The honorees who'll receive medals from Biden "have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come," the White House said.
The honor is reserved for people who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values or security of the United States, world peace or other significant societal public or private endeavors, the White House said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.