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U.S. Starts Vaccinating People Against COVID-19

Sandra Lindsay (left) a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Monday in the Queens borough of New York.
Sandra Lindsay (left) a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Monday in the Queens borough of New York.

"I feel like healing is coming," New York critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay said after receiving her shot. "I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history."

The first people in the U.S. are receiving vaccination shots against COVID-19 on Monday, as U.S. health workers started administering the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The first widely publicized vaccination took place in Long Island, N.Y., shortly after 9 a.m. The event was live-streamed and promoted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said, "The vaccine only works if the American people take it."

Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was the first person to receive the vaccine at the event. She received a shot administered by Michelle Chester, director of employee health services at Northwell Health.

After the shot was complete, applause broke out at the Long Island medical center– and Lindsay joined in. "I am feeling great," she said in the moments before getting the vaccine.

"This is an incredibly hopeful moment," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told NPR on Monday.

"I was watching the coverage this weekend along with Americans everywhere, and it brought tears to my eyes," Whitmer said, describing footage of trucks shipping out the first vaccine doses to hospitals and clinics across the country.

"About 145 sites are expecting to receive a vaccine shipment today," NPR's Allison Aubrey reports, adding that another 425 sites will get their doses on Tuesday.

Richard Emery, Karen Nolan
David Goldman/AP
Pharmacists Richard Emery, left, and Karen Nolan, wheel a box containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine next to a storage freezer as it arrives at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, R.I, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The vaccine's arrival is a rare bright spot in the fight against a viral disease that has now killed nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. and more than 1.6 million people worldwide.

Other vaccines are in the works, bolstering hopes of an eventual return to normal. But experts warn that it will take time to reverse a pandemic that is soaring to new heights in the U.S. and other countries.

States are using tiered systems to determine who gets the first doses in what is a very limited number of vaccines. They must also adapt to shifting plans from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's vaccine program.

"We were anticipating about a half a million vaccines and then we were informed by the federal government that it was going to be more like 80,000," Whitmer says. "And so we as states are trying to be nimble and build up the apparatus to administer these vaccines."

It will be at least a couple months, the governor said, before "we will really start to see increased availability for the general public."
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.