“Healing is Coming” Says Jamaican-American ICU Nurse Who Received First Shot of COVID-19 Vaccine

By Garth A. Rose

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool)

Despite some reticence among the community to take a COVID-19 vaccine, there was pride with the Jamaican diaspora in the U.S. that New York City ICU nurse Sandra Lindsay, a Jamaican American, was the first person in the U.S. to receive the Pfizer vaccine recently approved by the FDA.

Lindsay, a critical care nurse in the ICU department at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, received her vaccine on Monday morning, and it was streamed live on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s website. The governor, who witnessed the procedure, congratulated Lindsay for being a pioneer.

“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” Lindsay said after getting the shot. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the end of a very painful time in our history.”

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The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first coronavirus vaccine last week. It was developed jointly by Pfizer and BioNTech and requires two doses several weeks apart.

Hospital workers, like Lindsay, across the country, are among the first group of people to get the vaccine.

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 the Glenmuir High School. Lindsay says she usually visits Jamaica about three or four times per year.

Lindsay appeared as a guest on ABC TV’s “The View” on Tuesday morning. She said she experienced “absolutely no side effects” from the vaccine, and encouraged all those who doubts taking the vaccine to do so. “Over the past few months, I have experienced first hand the devastating effects of COVID-19, It’s very real and devastating. Take the vaccine,” she said.

Broward County physician receives South Florida’s first vaccine

The vaccine arrived at the Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County on Monday morning, and Aharon Sareli, a critical care physician, was the first healthcare worker in South Florida to be vaccinated. After receiving the vaccine, Sareli said it was just like “getting a flu shot” and “it was an honor to be the first in South Florida.”

The arrival of the vaccine in South Florida is particularly good news, especially since over the last few days the virus has been spiking in the region. Over 20,000 people have died from the virus in Florida where the total number of infections reached over 1.2 million on Tuesday.

Florida has received only a limited 179,400 doses of the vaccine in its first batch, and application of the vaccine will be limited, in accordance with the CDC regulations, to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Essential workers such as teachers, firefighters and corrections officers are next. Then will follow adults with medical conditions, making them high risk for COVID-19 complications, and seniors over age 65.

On Tuesday, the Jackson Health System in Miami identified employees with direct or indirect contact with COVID-19 patients as the top priority of employees to be vaccinated.

Two Caribbean-American nurses at Jackson South in South Miami, Yasmin Rose-Green and Alicia Bernard say they are anxiously waiting to be vaccinated “as soon as possible.” They both said there is “absolutely no fear of the vaccine, The fear is contracting the virus and putting the risk of our families and the general community at risk of contracting the virus.”

Five other Broward County hospitals will commence vaccinating their employees later this week. These are the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, Broward Health Medical Center, Holy Cross Health and Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale.

It’s anticipated that by the end of this week, several hospitals in Florida will have vaccinated large numbers of their workers who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients. 

It is likely the supply of vaccines in Florida and the rest of the U.S. could increase significantly by next week with the anticipation that the vaccine produced by the pharmaceutical company Moderna, will be approved by the FDA this week. Moreover, the Moderna vaccine will not have the severe freezing requirements that the Pfizer vaccine has, which could make the logistics related to its distribution less complicated and faster. 

While the general public awaits the availability of the vaccine, there is a small ray of hope in the Caribbean-American community of trusting the vaccines. Four weeks ago, CNW research indicated three in 10 residents in the community are willing to take the vaccine. This increased to four out of 10 when the question was asked on Monday.



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