NYC hospital that administered first COVID vaccine dose in U.S. donates vial to the Smithsonian

March 10, 2021

Photo by Scott Heins/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

The morning of December 14 was historic for New York and the nation. Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, received the first coronavirus vaccine in the United States, marking the beginning of the end of this painful period. That moment will be preserved as part of a collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., which has acquired the empty vial of the first dose and other materials related to that day, including the ID badge and scrubs of Lindsay, officials announced on Tuesday.

Empty Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Sodium Chloride diluent vials; courtesy of Northwell Health

Northwell Health, the healthcare provider that administered the first vaccine, donated the Pfizer-BioNtech vial that contained the first dose and Lindsay’s vaccination record card, scrubs, and hospital identification badge to the museum. Northwell also donated supplies needed to prepare and inject the vaccine, like diluent and syringes, and shipping materials that “document the enormous effort required to support vaccine distribution and preserve vaccine potency.”

“The urgent need for effective vaccines in the U.S. was met with unprecedented speed and emergency review and approval,” Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director, said in a press release. “These now historic artifacts document not only this remarkable scientific progress but represent the hope offered to millions living through the cascading crises brought on by COVID-19.”

The museum’s announcement of Northwell’s contribution comes on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic and as the death toll surpasses 525,000 Americans.

Nurse Sandra Lindsay with her vaccination record card; courtesy of Northwell Health

Scrubs top and Staff ID badge belonging to Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, who was the first person known to receive the vaccine in the U.S.; courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

“Northwell was prepared to put shots in arms as soon as the vaccine arrived, not to make history but to protect our frontline workers battling COVID-19 as quickly as possible,” Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, said.

“But when Sandra Lindsay rolled up her sleeve, we weren’t just showing our team members the safety and efficacy of this groundbreaking vaccine—we were telling the world that our country was beginning a new fight back to normalcy.”


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