Who is Sandra Lindsay? NYC ICU nurse among first to get Covid-19 vaccine, says 'healing is coming'

Who is Sandra Lindsay? NYC ICU nurse among first to get Covid-19 vaccine, says 'healing is coming'
(Getty Images)

The battle against Covid-19 took what could be a decisive turn on December 14 in the US as the first doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine were given to Americans. “Healing is coming,” said Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York, after she received the vaccine shortly before 9.30 am on Monday. 

“I'm feeling well. I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues, who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job throughout this pandemic all over the world. I am hopeful. I feel 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. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic and to not give up so soon,” said Lindsay, who has been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The first person to take the coronavirus vaccine in the state of New York, the ICU nurse joined in the applause moments after the first dose was injected into her left arm. Dr Michelle Chester, Northwell health director of employee health services, administered the shot to Lindsay. “She has a good touch, and it didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” Lindsay stated immediately afterward. 

The first vaccinations against coronavirus in the US started even as the nation crossed a grim milestone: more than 300,000 Americans have died in the pandemic so far. More than 16,508,000 coronavirus cases have been reported from across the country. 

Lindsay urged that people should continue to follow public health guidelines such as wearing a mask and physical distancing, even as she encouraged Americans to get vaccinated. “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-19, I don’t know how it would impact or those who I come in contact with, so I encourage everyone to take the vaccine.”


A nurse congratulates Lindsay after she is inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine (Getty Images)

The historic moment was live-streamed. Thanking the healthcare personnel, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo emphasized that 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,” he added. Cuomo also tweeted: “This is what heroes look like.”



The governor called the vaccine ‘exciting’ because “I believe this is the weapon that will end the war.” “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,” he told Lindsay before she got inoculated.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for Americans 16 years and older on December 11. The US government is aiming to distribute 2.9M vaccine doses to 636 locations nationwide by December 16.  


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, meanwhile, has recommended that the highest-risk groups — healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facility residents — should be first in line to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Each person who receives the Pfizer vaccine needs two doses 21 days apart, and it is up to states to allocate their share of vaccines.

“In New York, we prioritized healthcare workers at the top of the list to receive the vaccine, because we know that you are out there every day putting your lives in danger for the rest of us, so we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep you safe. I hope this gives you, and the healthcare workers who are battling this every day, a sense of security and safety and a little more confidence in doing your job once the second vaccine has been administered. And the point about New Yorkers and Americans having to do their part and take the vaccine, because the vaccine only works if the American people take it,” noted Cuomo.


The US government is aiming to distribute 2.9 million vaccine doses to 636 locations nationwide by December 16 (Getty Images)

Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling emphasized that Queens was the epicenter of the Covid-19 crisis several months ago. “This is where it hit the hardest. And this facility, Long Island Jewish, was right at the center. And here at Northwell, you know, we’ve seen well over 100,000 Covid-19 patients, and at one point in April, we had over 3,500 patients in our hospitals,” he informed. 

Dowling said this is “what everybody has been waiting for”, to be able to give the vaccine and to ‘hopefully’ see this be the beginning of the end of the pandemic. “But I just would like to say something though that just because we’re giving out the vaccine is no excuse for the public out there not to continue wearing masks, not to social distance, etc. You have to continue to comply with safety standards even though the vaccine is going to be distributed over the next couple of months,” he advised. 

The next Covid-19 vaccine under consideration for emergency use authorization in the US is Moderna’s candidate. The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) is meeting on December 17 to discuss the same.


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