First COVID-19 vaccine given in New York as Cuomo touts “weapon that will end the war”


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hosted an update Monday that saw a critical care nurse receive one of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I believe this is the weapon that will end the war. This is the last chapter of the book,” he said, ahead of the public vaccination.

The first shipment of Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to reach New York today, and health care workers could be getting their shots without hours of arrival. Cuomo tweeted “hope is on the way” Sunday as the first of nearly 3 million doses being shipped this week made their way by truck and by plane around the country from Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Michigan, factory. 

“The vaccine only works if people take it,” Cuomo said, and experts have said 75% of people need to get the vaccine for widespread immunity.

“It’s going to take months before the vaccine hits critical mass. This is the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel,” Cuomo said, urging people to continue practicing coronavirus safety measures including wearing masks through the upcoming holidays. 

The next hurdle is to rapidly get vaccine into the arms not just doctors and nurses but other at-risk health workers such as hospital janitors and food handlers — and then the second dose three weeks later.

“We’re also in the middle of a surge, and it’s the holidays, and our health care workers have been working at an extraordinary pace,” said Sue Mashni, chief pharmacy officer at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

On Sunday, Cuomo announced there were 5,410 virus-related hospitalizations reported in the state. Of the 205,250 tests reported yesterday, 10,194 were positive (4.96% of total), and there were 106 deaths.

Cuomo spoke on the same day that indoor dining in New York City is set to be suspended due to the virus.

Indoor dining was first banned in New York City after it became the global epicenter of the virus in the spring. It was allowed to resume at 25% capacity in late September — considered a milestone in the city’s progress against the virus.

Restaurant owners said eliminating indoor dining would be a big step back, with one calling it “another disaster” for the hard-hit industry.

“There are people who want to sit inside. We do offer outdoor dining, but people still want to be inside. This will hurt us and we’re starving,” said Regina Delfino of Mario’s Restaurant in the city.

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