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‘Race against time’: First Americans vaccinated as U.S. death toll passes 300,000

A New York City intensive care unit nurse on Monday became the first person in the United States to receive a coronavirus vaccine, saying she felt “healing is coming,” as the nation’s COVID-19 death toll crossed a staggering 300,000 lives lost.

Sandra Lindsay, who has treated some of the sickest COVID-19 patients for months, was inoculated at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in the New York City borough of Queens, an early epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, receiving applause on a livestream with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” Lindsay said. “I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope 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,” she added. “This is what heroes look like,” Cuomo wrote in the caption of a photo of Lindsay, wearing a mask and staring resolutely ahead, that he posted on Twitter.

Similar scenes played out at select hospitals in other cities, including Los Angeles, where California Governor Gavin Newsom applauded as a Kaiser Permanente emergency room nurse rolled up her sleeve for a needle jab on live television.

U.S. officials said no major hiccups were reported. U.S. Army General Gustave Perna said on a call with reporters that severe storms forecast this week could potentially hamper rounds of shipments to another 491 locations.

The vaccine’s arrival provided hope as the country passed 300,000 lives lost. Mounting COVID-19 hospitalizations – a record 109,000 patients reported on Monday alone – have strained healthcare systems to the breaking point, and more than 16 million U.S. coronavirus cases have been recorded to date.

Over the past seven days, the United States has averaged 2,462 deaths a day, the highest since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters count.

The process of shipping the first 2.9 million doses of vaccine began on Sunday, 11 months after the United States documented its first case of COVID-19.

The initial doses have been earmarked for healthcare professionals and nursing home residents, with essential workers, elderly people and individuals with chronic health conditions next in line.

As part of a national security protocol aimed at ensuring continuity of government in the event of an emergency, senior leaders in the executive branch, Congress and judiciary were also being offered early vaccines.

‘Race against time’: First Americans vaccinated as U.S. death toll passes 300,000, Reuters, Dec 15

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