Port nurse is first in U.S. to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Rose Weldon
Nurse Sandra Lindsay of Port Washington displays her immunization card after becoming the first person in the United States to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. Lindsay, who works in the ICU at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, says she will encourage everyone to take the vaccine. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

A registered nurse from Port Washington on Monday became the first person in the United States to receive the coronavirus vaccine, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. 

Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, received the vaccine, developed by Pfizer Inc., from Dr. Michelle Chester, director of employee health services for Northwell. System CEO and President Michael Dowling stood by and Cuomo participated in the livestreamed event.

“This is a special moment, a special day,” Dowling said. “This is what everybody has been waiting for to be able to give the vaccine.”

Lindsay said she felt “great” after receiving the vaccination, and thanked her colleagues for their hard work, adding that she felt “relieved” and “hopeful.”

“It didn’t feel any different than when receiving the annual influenza vaccine,” Lindsay said. “I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job to fight this pandemic all over the world.”

Cuomo thanked Lindsay and Chester for their work over the course of the pandemic.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for all New Yorkers through this pandemic,” Cuomo said. “I know how horrific it was. It was a modern-day battlefield, and that’s why the word ‘heroes’ is so appropriate for what you do – put your fear aside, and you step up every day to serve others, and you did it magnificently well, so I can’t thank you enough. 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, and now we just have to do it.”

In remarks to the governor following her vaccination, Lindsay said she would continue to advise the public to wear masks and abide by social distancing guidelines, adding that she hoped the vaccination would mark the “beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history.”

“As a nurse, my practice is guided by science and so I trust that,” Lindsay said. “What I don’t trust is that, if I contract COVID, I don’t know how it would impact or those who I come in contact with, so I encourage everyone to take the vaccine.”

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