America Begins Its Most Ambitious Vaccination Campaign

By Jack Healy, Amy Harmon, Simon Romero, Noah Weiland and Michael Gold
The New York Times

The first shots were given in the American mass vaccination campaign Monday morning, opening a new chapter in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more people in the United States than in any other country.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, the first known clinically authorized vaccination took place in Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York City.

“I believe this is the weapon that will end the war,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at the event Monday morning, shortly before the shot was given to Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at the center. State officials said the shot was the first to be given outside of a vaccine trial in the United States.

Lindsay, who has treated patients throughout the pandemic, said that she hoped her public vaccination would instill confidence that the shots were safe.

“I feel like healing is coming,” she said. “I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”

Moments later, President Donald Trump posted on Twitter: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”

The vaccinations started after the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Friday night, and as the U.S. coronavirus death toll approaches 300,000, with a steady surge in new cases daily.

On Sunday, trucks and cargo planes packed with the first of nearly 3 million doses of coronavirus vaccine had fanned out across the country, as hospitals in all 50 states rushed to set up injection sites. But the rollout is less centralized in the United States than in other countries that are racing to distribute it.

A majority of the first injections given Monday are expected to go to high-risk health care workers. In many cases, this first, limited delivery would not supply nearly enough doses to inoculate all of the doctors, nurses, security guards, receptionists and other workers who risk being exposed to the virus every day. Because the vaccines can cause side effects including fevers and aches, hospitals say they will stagger vaccination schedules among workers.

Residents of nursing homes, who have suffered a disproportionate share of COVID-19 deaths, are also being prioritized and are expected to begin receiving vaccinations next week. But the vast majority of Americans will not be eligible for the vaccine until the spring or later.

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