Black Woman Nurse Used As First Pfizer Vaccine Injection On Live TV
Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at a Queens, New York City hospital, was the first person in the U.S. to be vaccinated live on TV with the new Pfizer covid-19 vaccine.
When asked why she volunteered to be among the first recipients of the vaccine, she said she wanted to “inspire people who look like me.”
Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but they account for 21 percent of deaths from covid-19. Only 3 percent of people who enrolled in vaccine trials were Black, The New England Journal of Medicine reported.
It’s not only Black people who are skeptical about coronavirus vaccines. Many think the vaccine was approved too fast. During the summer, Merck CEO Ken Frazier spoke about the tradeoff of speed over safety when it came to a covid-19 vaccine. At the time, he said he couldn’t imagine a vaccine becoming available for at least a year. Pharmaceutical giant Merck is one of almost 150 pharmaceutical companies working on a vaccine.
Merck didn’t expect to start human testing until the end of 2020. “We know that the urgency of the situation will cause us to try and move quickly but never ever at the expense of human safety,” Frazier told Bloomberg.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Frazier reiterated the importance of not rushing development of a viable vaccine. “Speed is one factor, but in some ways we don’t really accept the concept of a race,” he said. “We understand the urgency, but our goal isn’t to be the frontrunner in the early stages — it’s to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective.”
Nurse Lindsay is the director of critical care nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. She said she understands the country’s history of unequal and racist medical treatment and experimentation on Black people.
Her goal, she told The New York Times, was “not to be the first one to take the vaccine, but to inspire people who look like me, who are skeptical in general about taking vaccines.”
Shortly after 9:20 a.m. on Monday, Lindsay, 52, became the first person in the country vaccinated for the coronavirus. It happened during a news conference with NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and was televised live on CNN.
“It feels surreal,” said Lindsay, who grew up in Jamaica before immigrating to the U.S. 30 years ago. “It is a huge sense of relief for me, and hope.”
Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, said the vaccination could begin to bring under control a pandemic that has killed more than 35,000 New Yorkers in the state. “This is a historic moment, potentially the beginning of the end,” he said.
The second U.S. person to be vaccinated was Dr. Yves Duroseau, chair of emergency medicine and a frontline emergency medicine physician at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Lindsay’s vaccination sparked debate on Twitter. Some were suspicious of a Black women being touted as the first vaccine recipient.
“Black ppl are never put first in this country, now all of a sudden we got the first vaccine. I smell fish”, one person tweeted.
“Just another way the Black Woman, gives her body for the love of a country that DOES NOT love her…Thank you, my sisters. I believe in science also”, another tweeted.
Tuskegee wasn’t far from people’s minds. “Suspect. Remember what the US did to black people in the syphilis Tuskegee studies from 1932-1972. Knowingly injected us with the disease saying it’s a vaccine. This pandemic is serious all I’m saying is Let white purple get the vaccine first. I don’t trust govt mandated vaccines”.
But Nikole Hannah-Jones, who launched the Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times’s The 1619 Project, had another take. The project traces the central role black Americans have played in the U.S.
Hannah-Jones tweeted, “Let me just halt the nonsense right now. Everyone doing that Twitter thing and posting about Tuskegee experiment haven’t even bothered to learn what that actually was. They WITHHELD treatment in that study. It is literal opposite of a vaccine. Stop being irresponsible.”
Experts say the vaccine is coming at a critical time in the U.S.
A weeks-long surge in coronavirus transmission has led to an average of more than 210,000 new infections and nearly 2,500 deaths a day in December 2020. “Despite the positive news on the vaccine front, the U.S. is still battling overcrowded hospitals and shrinking ICU capacity,” USA Today reported.
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Some cities are reinstating shutdowns as their hospital ICU wards become overcrowded. California’s Bay Area is on the verge of the 15 percent capacity needed for the region to go under a stay-at-home order.
Things are dire all across California. Health officials reported 30,000 new cases on Sunday and 122 new deaths with just 7.4 percent of ICU beds left statewide, KRON 4 reported.