New York, the worst-hit state at the start of the pandemic, just became the first to administer a coronavirus vaccine outside of clinical trials, kicking off a long, massive effort to vaccinate the American people.
Around 9 a.m. E.T. on Monday (Dec. 14), the very first dose of Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine was given to Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse in Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York, according to The New York Times. This comes as the U.S. continues to battle a massive wave of the virus that has more than 109,000 people currently hospitalized, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
Since the start of the pandemic, New York has recorded more than 780,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 35,100 deaths, according to The Times. "This vaccine is exciting because I believe this is the weapon that will end the war," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a live broadcast of the first vaccination. "It's the beginning of the last chapter of the book, but now we just have to do it."
Watch LIVE as the first person in New York gets vaccinated: https://t.co/a3p8QOtK6wDecember 14, 2020
On Friday (Dec. 11), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization, or permission for the vaccine to be distributed prior to full approval due to the pandemic emergency, to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The vaccine was shown to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in late-stage clinical trials.
On Sunday (Dec. 13), the first of 3 million initial doses of the vaccine were shipped across the U.S. in trucks and cargo planes, according to The Times. Some sites are set to receive the shipments today, while others will receive them on Tuesday (Dec. 15) or Wednesday (Dec.16).
Related: Coronavirus live updates
New York state officials expect to be able to vaccinate 170,000 people initially. The very first doses given out on Monday in New York will mainly be to high-risk health care workers, according to The Times.
But that's only a small fraction of the 1.8 million people in New York, including nursing home residents and healthcare workers, who will be prioritized to receive the vaccine in the first phase of the roll-out, which will likely end sometime in January, according to the Times. The second phase, which will include essential workers and high-risk individuals will come after that.
Other states across the U.S. are also beginning to vaccinate high priority individuals on Monday.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.