The first COVID-19 vaccines were given to health workers at a New York hospital on Monday morning, a time eagerly awaited by a nation tired by the pandemic.
Critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay was the first person in the United States to receive the vaccine.
“I feel full of hope today. Relieved, ”Lindsay said after being shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York City.
“It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a long tunnel, ”New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said as he watched Lindsay’s vaccination video.
The first of many vials of COVID-19 vaccine packaged in a freezer was shipped to distribution sites across the United States on Monday, as the nation’s pandemic death toll surpassed the horrific new milestone of 300,000.
Deployment of Pfizer’s vaccine, the first to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, ushers in the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history – an effort health officials hope the U.S. public will embrace, even if some expressed their initial skepticism or concern.
Prompt transport is essential for the vaccine, especially since it must be stored at extremely low temperatures – around 94 degrees below zero.
More Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will arrive each week. And later this week, the FDA will decide whether to give the green light to the world’s second rigorously studied COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Moderna Inc.
Now the hurdle is to quickly get the vaccine into the arms of millions of people, not just doctors and nurses, but other at-risk health workers such as janitors and food handlers – then deliver a second dose three weeks later.
“We’re also in the middle of a wave, and it’s the holidays, and our healthcare workers have been working at an extraordinary rate,” said Sue Mashni, pharmacy manager at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.
Additionally, injections can cause fever, fatigue, and temporary pain as they boost people’s immune systems, causing hospitals to stagger employee vaccinations.
A suspicious public will closely monitor whether health workers adopt vaccination. Only half of Americans say they want to get vaccinated, while about a quarter don’t and the rest are unsure, according to one recent survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Health Research.
Early Sunday, Pfizer workers – clad in neon yellow clothing, hard hats and gloves – wasted no time packing vials into boxes. They scanned the packages and then placed them in freezer boxes with dry ice. The vaccines were then transported from Pfizer’s facility in Portage, Mich., To the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, where the first cargo plane took off amid what airport officials called a “jubilant” mood.
“This is a historic day,” said Richard W. Smith, who oversees operations in the Americas for FedEx Express, which delivers 630 packages of vaccine to distribution sites across the country. United Parcel Service also transports part of the vaccine.
Helping transport the vaccine has special meaning for Bruce Smith, a FedEx package handler at Grand Rapids Airport, whose older sister, Queen, died after contracting the coronavirus in May. She was hospitalized in Georgia a day after seeing her on a video chat, and they never spoke to each other again.
“I think she would be delighted to know that something that has ravaged our family – that a family member is going to be part of such a big project,” said Smith, 58, whose nephew, son de Queen, also became ill and is still undergoing treatment for stroke-like symptoms. “It’s very, very important.”
Tracked with GPS-enabled sensors, the initial shipments were to contain around 3 million doses, with many more to come. Federal officials said the first vaccine shipments from Pfizer would be phased, arriving at 145 distribution centers on Monday, with another 425 sites receiving shipments on Tuesday and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. Doses of the vaccine, co-developed by German partner BioNTech, are distributed according to the adult population of each state. Then states decide where they go first.
In California, where health workers will be among the first to be vaccinated, state health officials are prioritizing hospitals that have adequate storage capacity, serve high-risk populations, and have the capacity to vaccinate. people quickly.
General Gustave Perna, director of operations for the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, said on Saturday that distribution of the vaccine had started. “We expect 145 sites to receive vaccines by Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday. and the last 66 sites on Wednesday, ”Perna said.
Initial surveys found that even some healthcare workers don’t want to be on the front lines. Dr Graham Snyder, who led the Pennsylvania health giant UPMC’s vaccine task force, estimates that about half of its employees are ready to receive the vaccine as soon as it is offered.
But many health officials expect the enthusiasm to grow.
“There’s this thought that maybe they don’t have to be so afraid to come to work if they can be vaccinated and be immunized,” said Dr Sandra Kemmerly, medical director of hospital quality at the 40 hospitals. Oschner Health System in Louisiana. and Mississippi. Employees approved for the first round receive text messages and emails urging them to schedule their initial injection, she said. Enough vaccines are kept so that each person who receives the first dose of vaccine can receive a required second injection a few weeks later.
Senior U.S. government officials, including some White House officials who work close to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, are among those who will be offered coronavirus vaccines as early as this week, have confirmed two people familiar with the matter.
Dr Peter Marks of the FDA said on Saturday that pregnant women should consult their doctors before taking the Pfizer vaccine, since pregnant women were not in clinical trials for emergency use clearance. “The provider and the individual can decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks,” Marks said. “[Taking the vaccine is] not something we recommend at the moment. It is something that we leave to the individual.
A survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about half of Americans want to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Another quarter is unsure, while the remaining quarter says they are not interested. Some are simply opposed to vaccines in general. Others fear the vaccines have been rushed and want to see how the rollout is going.
FDA commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn, which approved the Pfizer vaccine on Friday, has repeatedly insisted the agency’s decision was based on science, not policy, despite a threat from Home Blanche to fire him if the vaccine was not approved by Saturday.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Dr Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, a U.S. effort to rapidly develop vaccines, also said he was “very concerned” about skepticism about the drug. vaccine in some circles.
“Unfortunately … there has been a confusion between the degree of thoroughness, science and reality of the work that has been done, and the perception that people think we are cutting corners …” said Slaoui . “I can guarantee you that nothing like this has happened, that we are following the science.”
While many Americans are reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker is setting the record straight on some of the many myths circulating about the gunshots, including the false claim that it could interfere with your own DNA.
He called the vaccine development of several pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and AstraZeneca, “a remarkable achievement in the collaboration between science, academia, the industry ecosystem and the US government.”
Although the vaccine has been found to be safe, UK regulators are investigating several serious allergic reactions. FDA instructions tell suppliers not to give it to those with a known history of serious allergic reactions to any of its ingredients.
The Moderna vaccine will be reviewed by a panel of experts on Thursday and may soon be cleared for public use.
Irvine reported from Chicago. Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.