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Source: US State of New York

This morning, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo virtually joined Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling, Northwell Health Director of Employee Health Services Dr. Michelle Chester and Long Island Jewish Medical Center ICU Nurse Sandra Lindsay for the first administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Shortly before 9:30 a.m., Dr. Chester administered the vaccine to Ms. Lindsay, a front-line health care worker eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1 of New York’s Vaccine Distribution Plan. The vaccine was developed by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and authorized by the FDA and New York’s Clinical Advisory Task Force late last week.


VIDEO of today’s remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.


AUDIO of today’s remarks is available here.


PHOTOS are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.


A rush transcript of today’s remarks is available below:


Governor Cuomo: Good to see you, Michael Dowling, who is the president and the CEO of Northwell health, which is the largest health system in the State of New York. It’s very good to be with you. Dr. Chester, pleasure.


Michael Dowling: Good morning.


Governor Cuomo: And to you, the person who is going to take the first vaccine in the State of New York, maybe the first vaccine shot in the United States. Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse. It’s a pleasure to be with you. And you are in Long Island Jewish Medical Center, which is in the borough of Queens. Good things come from Queens. Let me start by saying thank you. Thank you, doctor. Thank you, nurse. Thank you, Mr. Dowling. Thank you for everything you’ve done for all New Yorkers through this pandemic. I know how horrific it was. It was a modern-day battlefield, and that’s why the word heroes is so appropriate to what you do. Put your fear aside, and you stepped up every day to serve others, and you did it magnificently well, so I can’t thank you enough. This vaccine is exciting because I believe this is the weapon that will end the war. It’s the beginning of the last chapter of the book, but now we just have to do it. Vaccine doesn’t work if it’s in the vial, right? So New York State has been working very hard to deploy it, get it out. We have trains, planes and automobiles moving this all over the state right now. We want to get it deployed and we want to get it deployed quickly, and we’re here to watch you take the first shot. So, Michael Dowling, Dr. Chester, Sandra Lindsay, we’re all with you.


Michael Dowling: Governor, thank you so much, and let me also express our thanks to you for your extraordinary leadership during this whole pandemic over the last number of months, and obviously today, and the fact that you committed to science and data to guide your leadership is absolutely extraordinary. And as you said, we’re in eastern Queens, and as you know, Queens was the epicenter of the COVID issue back a number of months ago. This is where it hit the hardest. And this facility, Long Island Jewish, was right at the center. And here at Northwell, you know, we’ve seen well over 100,000 COVID patients, and at one point in April we had over 3,500 patients in our hospitals. And as you said, we are the largest health system in New York, and we are very, very proud of our frontline staff, and of course of the frontline staff of all of the hospitals and all of the facilities across the region, their spectacular work and as you said they are the real heroes, so it’s a pleasure to be here with Sandra and Dr. Chester and I don’t think we need to delay any further because this is a special moment, a special day. This is what everybody has been waiting for to be able to give the vaccine and to hopefully see this be the beginning of the end of the COVID issue but I just would like to say something though that just because we’re giving out the vaccine is no excuse for the public out there not to continue wearing masks, not to social distance, etcetera. You have to continue to comply with safety standards even though the vaccine is going to be distributed over the next couple of months. You have to do both if we’re going to be successful here as you know very well, so again, Governor, we thank you, thank you for your extraordinary leadership and with that let me turn it over to Dr. Chester and Sandra here. Sandra is a critical care nurse, has been on the frontlines all during the crisis, is a director in critical care, she has seen a lot, and she is very, very happy to be here to receive the vaccine and Dr. Chester is the director of our employee health services, so with that, Dr. Chester, we’ll turn it over to you.


Governor Cuomo: Sandra, you didn’t flinch. I take it that Dr. Chester has a good touch.


Sandra Lindsay: She had a good touch, and it didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine.


Governor Cuomo: Great. Dr. Chester it all worked, the kit from your end?


Dr. Michelle Chester: Everything worked perfectly. Thank you.


Governor Cuomo: You’re feeling well?


Sandra Lindsay: Governor Cuomo, I’m feeling well. I would like to thank all the frontline workers, all my colleagues, who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job throughout this this pandemic all over the world. I am hopeful. I feel I hope today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming and this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do your part to put an end to the pandemic, and to not give up so soon. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we still need to continue to wear our masks, to social distance. I believe in science. As a nurse, my practice is guided by science and so I trust that. What I don’t trust is that, if I contract COVID, I don’t know how it would impact or those who I come in contact with, so I encourage everyone to take the vaccine.


Governor Cuomo: You said it very well Sandra. We trust science here in New York. The federal government approved the vaccine. We then had a separate panel that also approved the vaccine and we’ve been following the science all along. I hope this gives you, and the healthcare workers who are battling this every day, a sense of security and safety and a little more confidence in doing your job once the second vaccine has been administered. In New York we prioritized healthcare workers at the top of the list to receive the vaccine, because we know that you are out there every day putting your lives in danger for the rest of us, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep you safe. And the point about New Yorkers and Americans having to do their part and take the vaccine, because the vaccine only works if the American people take it. They estimate we need 75 percent to 85 percent of Americans to take the vaccine for it to be effective. So every American has to do their part, and your point is right, it’s going to take months before the vaccine hits critical mass. So this is the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel, and we need people to continue to do the right thing and the smart thing all through the holiday season, and hopefully when we get to about June, they estimate, the vaccine can hit critical mass. But the healthcare workers will get it first because we know that you’re super stressed during this holiday season. So God bless you. I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you do. Everybody knows it. Everybody knows how brave you are, and skilled, and talented, and selfless. When they use the word heroes, we don’t mean that lightly. We mean it deeply and sincerely. What you do, showing up every day, you really are heroes and we wish you and your families a blessed holiday season. Michael Dowling, thank you very much for your leadership once again, my friend.


Michael Dowling: Thank you Governor, and we will beat this. We will win.


Governor Cuomo: Thank you. when my time comes, I want Dr. Chester. I like her style. Thank you guys. Thank you very much.