As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic neared 300,000 on Monday, video and images of the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being delivered and administered gave people a shot of hope.
In Queens, N.Y., Northwell Health nurse Sandra Lindsay became the first person in the U.S. to receive the coronavirus vaccine, which just received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday. Video footage of the critical-care nurse getting the long-awaited inoculation went viral on Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -0.67% on Monday morning.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” said Lindsay, who received the shot to a round of applause.
“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” she added while speaking to journalists at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.
And her fellow Americans have been sharing those feelings on social media since the first of nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine started shipping out on Sunday. Onlookers also cheered as FedEx /zigman2/quotes/203047719/composite FDX -0.56% and UPS /zigman2/quotes/201245396/composite UPS -1.87% delivery trucks left the Pfizer facility in Portage, Mich., near Kalamazoo, at around 8:25 a.m. local time on Sunday. The Detroit Free Press posted footage of the trucks hitting the road on Twitter, and the clip has been viewed almost 1 million times.
And footage of Pfizer employees rapidly scanning and packing doses of the vaccine before placing them in freezer cases with dry ice also spread across the internet — particularly clips of the workers cheering as the first shipments left the Michigan facility.
The vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX -3.44% and being commercialized by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE -1.06% is the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency-use authorization in the U.S., and it is the first coronavirus vaccine being given to Americans during the pandemic (apart from the volunteers participating in clinical trials) that has recently seen more than 3,000 deaths a day in the U.S. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was first distributed in Bahrain, Canada and the United Kingdom last week, and the world watched as Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 this week, became the first person to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID shot outside of clinical trials.
Now it’s America’s turn, and footage of planes delivering doses of the vaccine to all 50 states, refrigerated trucks pulling into hospital parking lots with the extra special delivery, as well as health care workers getting their COVID shots soon flooded Twitter on Monday morning.
The first COVID-19 shot has been authorized by the FDA for emergency use for Americans ages 16 and up, and the first doses are expected to go to health-care workers and nursing home residents, whom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deemed are the two groups at the highest risk of contracting the virus. Essential workers, people with chronic health conditions that put them at greater risk for severe COVID-19, and adults 65 and older are also expected to be prioritized for vaccine doses going forward. The average American probably won't get their COVID shot until spring 2021, although there is some concern that America’s 1% will pull out all the stops to ensure they get the shot in the arm ahead of more vulnerable populations, however.
Public health experts are also worried that Americans may hesitate to get the two-dose vaccine, as an Associated Press poll found that only about half of Americans want to get the vaccine as soon as possible, while another quarter aren’t sure, and the remaining quarter say they aren’t interested at all. The survey noted that some respondents questioned vaccines in general, but others were worried that the coronavirus vaccines were rushed, so they want to see how the rollout goes first.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to reach 145 distribution sites across the country Monday, followed by another 425 sites on Tuesday and 66 sites on Wednesday. Later this week, the FDA is also scheduled to decide whether to authorize Moderna’s /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -2.59% COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, so more help could be on the way.