Finally, some tangible hope. On the morning of December 14, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, joined on Zoom by Michael Dowling, the president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York State, oversaw Dr. Michelle Chester vaccinating the state’s first recipient with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The lucky left arm belonged to Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in the borough of Queens in New York City.
Governor Cuomo first thanked all involved. “It was a modern-day battlefield,” Cuomo said of the early days of the pandemic in Queens, which was one of the epicenters of the COVID in the city. “That’s why the word ‘heroes’ is so appropriate for what you did,” he said, referring to Dr. Chester and nurse Lindsay. “You put your fear aside and stepped up every day.” Cuomo went on to say that “this vaccine is 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.”
Nurse Lindsay didn’t even flinch as she was administered the first of what will end up being two COVID-19 vaccines. After being jabbed in her left arm, she immediately began clapping. “It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” said Lindsay. Added Dr. Chester: “Everything worked perfectly.”
Following the vaccination, nurse Lindsay said this: “I’m feeling well, and I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues, who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job [during] this pandemic, all over the world. I feel hopeful today, relieved, [and] I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end to 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 parts and put an end to the pandemic. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we still need to continue to wear our masks [and] social distance. I believe in science as a nurse; my practice is guided by science, so I trust science. What I don’t trust is, if I contract COVID, what [will happen] to those who I come in contact with. So I encourage everyone to take the vaccine.”
This comes a little less than nine months after Governor Cuomo officially locked down New York State on March 22. As of December 13, the statewide positivity rate is at 4.96 percent, with 5,410 patients having been hospitalized statewide, 1,009 of which are in the ICU and 567 intubated. As of yesterday, there were 106 deaths in New York State due to the virus.