ICU nurse in New York among the first people in the US to get authorized coronavirus vaccine

Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse in New York, was the first person in the state, and among the first in the country, to get an authorized coronavirus vaccine. By Eric Levenson, CNN

(CNN) -- A critical care nurse was the first person in New York and among the first people in the United States to get a shot of the coronavirus vaccine authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York City, was administered the vaccine during a live video event at about 9:20 a.m. ET on Monday.

Dr. Michelle Chester, the corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health, delivered the shot.

"She has a good touch, and it didn't feel any different than taking any other vaccine," Lindsay said immediately afterward.

Later, Lindsay told CNN's Anderson Cooper that she feels "great."

"I have no fear," she told CNN. "I trust the science. My profession is deeply rooted in science. I trust science. What I don't trust is getting Covid-19, because I don't know how it will affect me and the people around me that I could potentially transfer the virus to."

Chester said the vaccine kit to administer the shot "worked perfectly."

Lindsay and Chester, both Black women, were flanked on stage by Michael Dowling, the president and CEO of Northwell Health, who noted the regional hospital system has seen over 100,000 patients with Covid-19.

Though it lasted just seconds, the shot represents a pivotal moment in history: a symbol of scientific speed and rigor; of the crushing burden borne by health care workers; of New York's journey from its dark days as the epicenter of the pandemic; and -- with two Black women front and center -- of the renewed focus on issues of race and gender.

The vaccine is of course more than just symbolism. With the shot, and a second dose in 21 days, Lindsay will be able to more safely visit family, friends, colleagues and patients. Soon, so too will millions of Americans.

"This is a special moment, a special day," Dowling said. "This is what everybody has been waiting for."

Lindsay said she want to inspire other people to get vaccinated.

"I want to be a part of the solution to put an end to this pandemic once and for all," she told CNN. "I think also as a leader in the organization that I lead by example. I don't ask people to do anything that I would not do myself."

States beginning vaccines

People in a handful of other countries, including the United Kingdom, have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after their governments approved its use earlier. In addition, 21,720 people already received this vaccine as part of the Phase 3 trials that tested its efficacy. (Of those, there were only eight Covid-19 cases, compared to 162 cases among those who received a placebo.)

Still, Lindsay is among the the first to get a shot of the vaccine now that the FDA approved it for emergency use and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the OK for it be administered to people 16 and older.

The first batch of the vaccine was shipped out from a Pfizer plant in Portage, Michigan, on Sunday headed for over 600 sites across all 50 states. The first deliveries arrived to the University of Michigan, George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC, and more locations on Monday morning.

State and local authorities make their own decisions on who gets vaccinated and when. The CDC has recommended that frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities get the vaccine first.

To be fully effective, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given as two shots administered 21 days apart. A two-dose regimen of the vaccine has an efficacy of 95% in people ages 16 and older, though FDA briefing documents also note that the vaccine appears to provide "some protection" against Covid-19 after just one dose.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he may be vaccinated in the next week or so.

"As soon as my turn comes up, which likely will be very soon, I'm going to be available to get vaccinated publicly so that people can see that I feel strongly that this is something we should do, and hopefully that will encourage many more people to get vaccinated," he told MSNBC.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that he wants to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as he can.

"I want to get vaccinated as soon as possible and I want to do it on TV, because I want the American people to see my complete confidence in the integrity of the system," he told CNN's Jake Tapper on Monday. "I want them to see that I wouldn't ask them to do something that I wouldn't do myself."

The arrival of the vaccine comes at a critical time. On Monday afternoon, the national death toll from coronavirus-related reasons surpassed 300,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US also recorded 110,549 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, setting a record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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