Vastavam web: The injection to Sandra Lindsay’s arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center made her the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside a clinical trial. The small dose of mRNA represented a giant leap in efforts to beat back the virus, a moonshot worth of hope amid a pandemic that has infected more than 16 million and killed more than 300,000 nationwide. “Sandra, you didn’t flinch,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told the critical care nurse after the injection was administered, as he watched via live stream from his office.
“It didn’t feel any different than taking any other vaccine,” said Lindsay, seated in a puffy, blue armchair. But this vaccine is monumentally different. Developed in record time, it is expected, eventually, to help end a pandemic that has crippled much of life in the United States — and globally — for the better part of a year. Vaccinations rolled out across the country Monday, with doctors and nurses at hospitals nationwide injecting one another as part of a federal plan to prioritize front-line health-care workers. Some said they had dedicated the experience to the patients they had lost, or to family members they had seldom seen as they battled around-the-clock to save others.
The immunization campaign will rapidly expand in the days ahead, with some states beginning to include nursing homes. Federal officials leading the effort to manufacture and distribute the vaccines said Monday that they expect 20 million people to get the first of two required doses by the end of the year. But as Cuomo, Lindsay and others watching live celebrated, they also offered reminders that it will take months for enough people to be vaccinated to influence the broader course of the virus among the public. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Lindsay said. “But we still need to wear masks and social distance.”
And even with the injection, Lindsay was not fully protected. The vaccine administered Monday — developed by Pfizer with the German company BioNTech — requires two doses to achieve the 95 percent effectiveness that studies have shown.