Shortly before 9:30 this morning, Sandra Lindsay, a nurse in the ICU unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, was the first person in New York — and likely the first in the United States — to receive the vaccine for COVID-19.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo virtually joined Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling and Northwell Health Director of Employee Health Services, Dr. Michelle Chester who administered the vaccine to Lindsay, a front-line health care worker.
Lindsay, the Director of Critical Care at Northwell Health, was eligible to receive the vaccine under the first phase of New York’s Vaccine Distribution Plan. The vaccine was developed by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and authorized by the FDA and New York’s Clinical Advisory Task Force late last week.
“Governor Cuomo, I’m feeling well,” Lindsay said. “I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues, who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job throughout this this pandemic all over the world. I am hopeful. I feel I hope today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming and this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.
“I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe,” Lindsay continued. “We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do your part to put an end to the pandemic, and to not give up so soon. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we still need to continue to wear our masks, to social distance. I believe in science. As a nurse, my practice is guided by science and so I trust that. What I don’t trust is that, if I contract COVID, I don’t know how it would impact or those who I come in contact with, so I encourage everyone to take the vaccine.”
Governor Cuomo said: “Let me start by saying thank you. Thank you, doctor. Thank you, nurse. Thank you, Mr. Dowling. Thank you for everything you’ve done for all New Yorkers through this pandemic. I know how horrific it was. It was a modern-day battlefield, and that’s why the word heroes is so appropriate to what you do. Put your fear aside, and you stepped up every day to serve others, and you did it magnificently well, so I can’t thank you enough.
“This vaccine is exciting because I believe this is the weapon that will end the war,” the governor continued. “It’s the beginning of the last chapter of the book, but now we just have to do it. Vaccine doesn’t work if it’s in the vial, right? So New York State has been working very hard to deploy it, get it out. We have trains, planes and automobiles moving this all over the state right now. We want to get it deployed and we want to get it deployed quickly, and we’re here to watch you take the first shot.