Video: Covid-19 Vaccination began in US on Monday

The first coronavirus vaccination in the United States took place on Monday morning in Queens, state officials said, signaling a turning point in the battle against a pandemic that has profoundly scarred New York, killing more than 35,000 people and severely weakening the economy.

Sandra Lindsay, the director of critical care nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, received the shot — the first known clinically authorized inoculation outside of a vaccine trial — shortly after 9:20 a.m. during a news conference with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

That the vaccine was administered in Queens, one of the first areas in the country to feel the brunt of the virus, seemed a fitting coincidence. That the recipient was a nurse made for a powerful tribute to the frontline health care workers who have witnessed the virus’s deadly toll.

“I’ve been hopeful today,” said Ms. Lindsay, whose vaccination drew applause. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end in a very painful time in our history.”

The hastily arranged media event, held just a few hours after the vaccines landed in New York City at dawn, crystallized a new chapter in the country’s fight against a pandemic that has upended society. It was televised on CNN, and nearly half a million people streamed it on the governor’s website and social media platforms, according to his office.

The vaccine arrives at a time of urgency, with New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic, now confronting a worsening second wave after a relatively dormant period in the summer.

The state recorded an average of 10,048 cases per day last week, an increase of 72 percent from two weeks earlier. Patients are filling up hospital beds in numbers not seen since May, with the state reporting an additional 300 people hospitalized on Monday, bringing the total number of hospitalized patients to more than 5,700.

Now, nearly 300 days after the state reported its first coronavirus case on March 1, health officials face another race against time to protect vulnerable New Yorkers from a now familiar foe. The distribution of a vaccine that has been fast-tracked in each stage of the process, from development to approval by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday night, figures to provide many logistical challenges.

“I believe this is the weapon that will end the war,” Mr. Cuomo said during the news conference. “We have planes, trains and automobiles moving this all over the state right now. We want to get it deployed, and we want to get it deployed quickly.”

The shipment on Monday is part of the state’s initial allocation to vaccinate people deemed most essential or at-risk, a group that includes frontline health care workers, as well as staff members and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. About 10,000 vaccine doses were to be administered throughout the day in hospital systems across the state, Mr. Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said five hospitals in the city received shipments on Monday, and 39 additional hospitals were expected to receive doses in the next two days. The mayor said that watching Ms. Lindsay get the vaccine was “a beautiful moment.”

“I felt this welling up of hope,” said Mr. de Blasio, who was present as vaccinations occurred at an N.Y.U. Langone Health hospital in Manhattan on Monday afternoon. “This amazing sense of, ‘We are actually turning the corner.’”

State officials are anticipating enough doses from the drugmaker Pfizer in the coming days to begin inoculating 170,000 people. The process requires two doses for each person, administered a few weeks apart.

As soon as next week, the state is expecting 346,000 additional doses from the drugmaker Moderna, which is still waiting for F.D.A. approval for emergency use of its vaccine.

Those initial batches will begin to cover just over a quarter of the estimated 1.8 million people prioritized to receive the vaccine in the first phase of distribution in the state. Getting through those high-priority vaccinations will also take some time — state officials project to conclude the first phase sometime in January.

Source: New York Times

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