Jamaican American Nurse Sandra Lindsay to Get Presidential Medal of Freedom

Jamaica-born Sandra Lindsay, who was the first person in the United States to get the COVID-19 vaccine, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Dr. Lindsay, an ICU nurse in Queens, New York, rolled up her sleeve in December 2020 to receive the vaccine live on television.

Lindsay is among 17 people including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles and the late John McCain, who will be received the nation’s highest civilian honor from President Joe Biden, who is also a medal recipient.

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Biden’s honors list includes both living and deceased honorees from the worlds of Hollywood, sports, politics, the military, academia, and civil rights and social justice advocacy. President Biden will present the medals at the White House on July 7.

The honorees who’ll receive medals from the president “have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come,” the White House said.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom honor is reserved for people who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values or security of the United States, world peace or other significant societal public or private endeavors.

The White House noted that Nurse Lindsay “is a New York critical care nurse who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials and is a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for health care workers.”

Lindsay was born and raised in Jamaica. She immigrated to the United States in 1986 to further her education, and eventually embarked on a career in nursing. She lived in Clarendon and attended Glenmuir High School.

In reaction to the announcement from the White House, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, who has been invited to the ceremony, congratulated Dr. Lindsay on behalf of the government and people of Jamaica as a member of the diaspora who continues to make Jamaica proud.

To be numbered among the other individuals who will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was no mean feat, Ambassador Marks said, and is an indication of the high esteem in which Dr. Sandra Lindsay has been held by the Biden-Harris administration.

This is also the second time that President Biden is honoring Nurse Sandra Lindsay.

In 2021, she was presented with the “Outstanding American by Choice” award by President Biden. The “Outstanding American by Choice” is given to immigrants who make significant contributions to the United States.

President Biden also said her vaccination card, badge and scrubs will form part of a future exhibit about Covid at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.



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