US starts Covid-19 vaccination campaign

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester in Queens on Monday. Photo by Mark Lennihan

Hospitals in the United States began unpacking frozen boxes of coronavirus vaccine on Monday, in a historic attempt to curb the disease that has killed nearly 300,000 people in the country.

Shortly after 9 a.m., the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was administered in Queens, the first known inoculation since the vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late last week.

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse and the director of patient services in the intensive care unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was the first American to receive the vaccine — as a Black woman, she is among the demographic most disproportionately devastated by Covid-19.

Lindsay, who has treated patients throughout the pandemic, said that she hoped her public vaccination would give confidence that the shots were safe.

“I have seen the alternative, and do not want it for you,” she said. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.»

Meanwhile, President Trump also celebrated the act via Twitter.

A majority of the first injections given on Monday are expected to go to high-risk health care workers. Most Americans will not be able to receive the vaccine until 2021, but the roll-out beginning this week is seen as a key symbolic turning point in the nation’s battle against the pandemic.

In an interview with MSNBC, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, laid out a timeline for a return to normalcy that stretched well into 2021. He stressed that until then, social distancing and masks will remain crucial in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.