A critical care nurse in New York on Monday became the first American to get a shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, days after it was authorised by the United States Food and Drug Administration, reported CNN.
Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care unit nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York City, was administered the vaccine during a live video event. Dr. Michelle Chester, the corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health, delivered the shot.
Lindsay said that she hoped her public vaccination would instill confidence in Americans that the shots were safe. “I feel like healing is coming,” she said. “I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”
The nurse said the experience did not feel any different than taking any other vaccine. “I’m feeling well,” Lindsay said immediately after she was given the vaccine shot.
United States President Donald Trump celebrated the moment over Twitter. “Congratulations USA,” he wrote. “Congratulations world!”
Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he hoped the vaccine would give Lindsay and other frontline healthcare workers “a sense of security and safety”, reported AFP.
Cuomo also warned Americans against complacency. “It’s going to take months before the vaccine hits critical mass,” he said. “So, this is the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel.”
The rollout comes less than a week after the US drug regulator authorised the vaccine for emergency use for Americans over 16 years of age. The order from the FDA led to the pharmaceutical company shipping 2.9 million doses to 636 sites across the country.
The first batch of the vaccine was shipped out from a Pfizer plant in Portage, Michigan, on Sunday. The first deliveries arrived to the University of Michigan, George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC, and more locations on Monday morning.
The vaccine, which has an efficacy of 95%, uses messenger mRNA technology to introduce the body to the spike protein found on the outside of the coronavirus to provoke an immune response. It requires two doses, administered three weeks apart.
The vaccine comes with complex distribution challenges as it must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius, requiring specialised ultra-cold freezers. Moderna’s vaccine, which showed 94.5% efficacy in final trials, employs the same technology but does not need to be stored at sub-Arctic temperatures.
Singapore approves Pfizer vaccine
Singapore on Monday became the latest, and the first Asian country, to approve the Pfizer vaccine, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said they expected delivery of the first shots by the end of December.
The city-state of 57 lakh people expected to have enough vaccines for everyone by the third quarter of 2021. The vaccine will be free for citizens and long-term residents, Lee said.
While vaccination will be voluntary, Lee said he and other government officials would be among the early recipients along with healthcare workers, other front-line personnel, the elderly and the vulnerable.
“My colleagues and I, including the older ones, will be getting ourselves vaccinated early,” Lee said in a national broadcast. “This is to show you, especially seniors like me, that we believe the vaccines are safe.”
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was first approved in Britain on December 2, and the UK residents began receiving the shots last week. It was the first clinically authorised, fully tested immunisation effort in the world. Canada also authorised the vaccine and expects to start inoculations this week. In addition, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Bahrain have also approved the vaccine.