A New York nurse was today the first person to be vaccinated against covid-19 in the United States, the country in the world most affected by the pandemic.
“I feel hopeful today. Relieved, ”said Sandra Lindsay, after getting an injection in the arm, at a hospital in Long Island, New York, becoming the first person to be treated in what will be the biggest vaccination campaign in the history of the United States.
Shipments of frozen vaccine bottles produced by Pfizer and BioNTech today began reaching American hospitals, at a time when the covid-19 pandemic has already claimed nearly 300,000 deaths and the number of new infections does not appear to be slowing.
“This is the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a long tunnel, ”said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, while watching Lindsay’s vaccination by video.
Health professionals and nursing home residents will be the first to receive vaccines.
“This is kilometer 35 of a marathon. People are tired, but they realize that the end of the race is approaching, ”explained Chris Dale, an epidemiologist in Seattle.
The President of the USA, Donald Trump, also welcomed this initial moment of vaccination in his country.
“First vaccine administered. Congratulations to the United States, congratulations to the world! ”Wrote Trump in his personal Twitter account.
Packaged in dry ice to remain in deep-frozen temperatures, the first of nearly three million doses sent in batches made their way in trucks from the Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, towards the distribution centers, where the authorities of each state determines the destination of each dose.
Some North American hospitals spent the weekend tracking their orders, updating the route through the electronic portals of the FedEx and UPS carriers, to try to know what time they would receive the first vaccines.
This process will now be repeated weekly, when the drug regulatory agency, the FDA, decides whether to give the green light to the second vaccine against covid-19, produced by the modern pharmaceutical company.
The obstacle for US authorities is to quickly place the vaccine in the arms of millions of people, starting with doctors and nurses, but also with elderly people in homes, as well as their caretakers, having to repeat the dose three weeks later.
“We are in the middle of an outbreak. And there are festive holidays and our healthcare professionals have been working at an accelerated pace for many months, ”acknowledged Sue Mashni, head of pharmacy at a hospital in New York.
Those responsible for the vaccination process are still concerned about the reactions of the vaccine, which can cause temporary fever, fatigue and pain, since they speed up people’s immune systems, forcing hospitals to schedule vaccinations of employees.
On the other hand, there is still caution among the population, with surveys indicating that only half of Americans say they want to be vaccinated.
The FDA, considered the most demanding regulatory agency in the world, said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine looks safe and very effective, but experts prefer to wait for results from its mass application to get a better sense of the product’s characteristics.
Still, the vaccine was already applied to almost 44,000 people before it was approved, although investigations are still looking for more answers to additional questions.
For example, vaccines have not yet been studied in children and during pregnancy, although the American College of Obstetricians said on Sunday that vaccination should not be denied to pregnant women.