An African American healthcare worker became on Monday the first to get a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in New York, the city hit the hardest by the pandemic, as first doses of the drug were administered to Americans around the country amid much cheering and applause.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel … I encourage everyone to take the vaccine,” said Sandra Lindsay, a critical care worker, after she was administered a primary shot of the two-dose vaccine at a New York city hospital, as other healthcare workers applauded, joined in by Governor Andrew Cuomo through video link. Many in the African American community are distrustful of vaccines because of a history of racially charged medical experimentations.
“First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!” President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet shortly, but it was not immediately clear if he was referring to Lindsay or some other case as first shots of the vaccine began to be administered around the country on Monday. Earlier, he had reversed a White House decision to vaccinate personnel around the president in the first lot. He moved them back to their usual positions in the priority line.
Frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term nursing home facilities have been prioritised by US public health authorities for vaccination, which started Monday following expedited approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech medicine by the drug and food safety regulator and related health surveillance agencies over the weekend.
The vaccine’s journey from Pfizer’s manufacturing facility in Michigan was followed breathlessly by news TV crews, for a nation starving for good news. Cameras recorded trucks carrying the vaccines emerging from the facility and cargo flights carrying them from a nearby airport for onward destinations.
A local Michigan couple came to the airport to watch the flights take off. That was the stuff of history, like the moon landing, they said.
Nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be administered at 600 sites around the country immediately, with millions more over the next days.
A second vaccine — from Moderna — is on the way as well, and is expected to become available for emergency use through the same expedited process.
New York state accounted for more than 35,000 of the nearly 300,000 Americans killed by coronavirus in the United States thus far, according to the Johns Hopkins University. An estimated 65% of the New York deaths were in New York City making it the worst hit in the world. The United States has been the most badly affected in the world with more than 16 million infections and it is undergoing a new surge.