On Monday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo virtually joined Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling, Northwell Health Director of Employee Health Services Dr. Michelle Chester, and Long Island Jewish Medical Center ICU Nurse Sandra Lindsay for the first administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. Shortly before 9:30 a.m., Chester administered the vaccine to Lindsay, a front-line health care worker eligible to receive the vaccine under phase one of New York's vaccine distribution plan.
The vaccine was developed by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and authorized by the FDA and New York's Clinical Advisory Task Force late last week.
This event took place in Queens.
Cuomo said, “Let me start by saying thank you. Thank you, doctor. Thank you, nurse. Thank you, Mr. Dowling. Thank you for everything you've done for all New Yorkers through this pandemic. I know how horrific it was. It was a modern-day battlefield, and that's why the word ‘heroes’ is so appropriate to what you do. Put your fear aside, and you stepped 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, but now we just have to do it. Vaccine doesn't work if it's in the vial, right? So New York state has been working very hard to deploy it, get it out. We have trains, planes and automobiles moving this all over the state right now. We want to get it deployed and we want to get it deployed quickly, and we're here to watch you take the first shot.”
Dowling said, “Queens was the epicenter of the COVID issue back a number of months ago. This is where it hit the hardest. And this facility, Long Island Jewish, was right at the center. And here at Northwell, you know, we've seen well over 100,000 COVID patients, and at one point in April we had over 3,500 patients in our hospitals. And as you said, we are the largest health system in New York, and we are very, very proud of our frontline staff, and of course of the frontline staff of all of the hospitals and all of the facilities across the region, their spectacular work and, as you said, they are the real heroes.”
He added, “This is a special moment, a special day. This is what everybody has been waiting for to be able to give the vaccine and to hopefully see this be the beginning of the end of the COVID issue – but I just would like to say something, though, that just because we're giving out the vaccine is no excuse for the public out there not to continue wearing masks, not to social distance, etc. You have to continue to comply with safety standards even though the vaccine is going to be distributed over the next couple of months. You have to do both if we're going to be successful here.”
After receiving the vaccination shot, Lindsay, said, “Gov. Cuomo, I'm feeling well. I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues, who've been doing a yeoman's job throughout this this pandemic all over the world. I am hopeful. I feel I hope today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming and this marks the beginning of the end of 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 your part to put an end to the pandemic, and to not give up so soon. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we still need to continue to wear our masks, to social distance.
“I believe in science. As a nurse, my practice is guided by science and so I trust that. 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.”