QUEENS, N.Y. (WROC) — The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in New York state.
A critical care nurse who has treated COVID-19 patients in hard-hit New York City became the first person in the state to receive the vaccine Monday as part of campaign to inoculate front-line health care workers.
Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was the first New Yorker to received the Pfizer vaccine at 9:15 a.m.
“I’m feeling well,” Lindsey said after receiving the shot. “I would like to thank all the frontline workers; all my colleagues who been working during this pandemic, all over the world. I am hopeful today — relieved. I feel like healing is coming, and I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic and not give up too soon.”
Gov. Cuomo joined via Zoom for the moment, congratulating Lindsay for making history. Onlookers applauded after a doctor gave Lindsay the injection at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens.
“It was a modern day battlefield and that’s why the word hero is so appropriate for what you did,” Gov. Cuomo told Lindsey. “You put your fear aside and you spent everyday serving others.”
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With the first shot in the books, officials now turn their focus to mass distribution and immunization.
“We want to get it deployed and deployed quickly,” Gov. Cuomo said.
Health officials say this is an important step in ending the pandemic, but urged New Yorkers to remain cautious in the months ahead.
“I don’t think we need to delay any further because this is a special moment, a special day what everybody has been waiting for,” said Dr. Michael Dowling, Northwell Health CEO. “To be able to give the vaccine, and see the beginning of the end of the COVID issue. Just because we’re giving out the vaccine is no excuse for the public to not continue wearing masks, social distancing, etc. You have to continue to comply with safety standards even as the vaccine is distributed, you have to do both if were going to be successful.”
Hospital workers began unloading frozen vials of COVID-19 vaccine nationwide Monday. Shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine began Sunday evening and according to the governor’s office, the estimated allocation of the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for the Rochester and Finger Lakes region is 11,150.
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On Friday, the governor announced gyms and salons can begin reopening in orange zones, with restrictions of 25% capacity and weekly testing.
An orange zone designation has been placed on parts of the City of Rochester, along with portions of Irondequoit, Brighton, and Gates, since late November.
The orange zone brought about new restrictions, including some closures of non-essential businesses. The governor said new state data released Friday showed that fitness center and personal care facilities showed low transmission rates of the virus.
The governor said that regions that reach critical hospital capacity will be designated as a red zone. In this definition, critical hospital capacity is “if a region’s seven-day average hospitalization growth rate shows that the region will reach 90% within the next three weeks,” according to the governor’s office.
The governor said the state department of health was re-evaluating the data and could announce new zone criteria, and area designations, as soon as Monday.