New York: “Hopefully soon! I’m first on the list!”, reads a text message from Dr Krishan Kumar, an Indian American doctor on the frontlines of the pandemic response in New York City. Excitement and a sense of relief are palpable as the first Covid-19 shots go into the arms of healthcare workers and nursing home residents in the United States.
Kumar works in the emergency rooms of two hospitals, in Brooklyn and in Queens. His message landed just as the very first shot in the United States was delivered to a nurse in New York City, shortly before 9: 30 am Monday.
“I feel like healing is coming,” said Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse who received the first vaccine in New York City, in Queens, in the full glare of news cameras.
After she got the shot and it was sealed with a bandaid, Lindsay urged Americans to mask up, stay the course and get vaccinated when their time comes.
As these remarkable visuals play out, hospital workers across 50 states are unloading precious cargo: the first vials of nearly 3 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine which mark the shift towards real recovery from a virus that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans in just 11 months.
The Pfizer vaccine is being transported from Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Michigan, factory in massive trucks with dry ice packaging that allows it to stay at ultra-frozen temperatures. The shots are yet to be studied in children and in pregnant women.
On the night of December 11, US regulators approved emergency use of the Pfizer and BionTech vaccine for people aged 16 years and older, based on recommendations from an independent vaccine advisory committee which debated for over nine hours before ending on a 17-4 vote.
By Nikhila Natarajan