When Sandra Lindsay, a Black nurse at a hospital in Queens, N.Y., became the first person in the U.S. to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Monday of last week, much of the medical world breathed a collective sigh of relief. The historic moment, captured on video, symbolized the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 nightmare.
“It feels surreal,” Lindsay said after receiving the vaccine. “It is a huge sense of relief for me, and hope.”
Lindsay also noted that it was important for a Black American to be seen getting the vaccine so as to assure those who often distrust the medical system and have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, due to history, my population — minorities, people that look like me — are hesitant to take vaccines,” she said.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other top government health officials received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The first two members of the National Institutes of Health team to receive the shot were both Black — one man and one woman.
Despite the fact that 71 percent of Black Americans say they know someone who has either died or been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19, just 42 percent said they planned to get vaccinated for it, according to a December survey by the Pew Research Center.
In the U.S., Black people are nearly three times as likely to get infected with COVID-19 as whites, according to a study by the National Urban League, and are twice as likely to die from the disease. So the video of Lindsay receiving her first injection of the vaccine was significant.
Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Dec. 14 (Mark Lennihan — Pool/Getty Images)
That same Monday, five frontline workers, known as the “first five” at the University of Maryland Medical Center, also received the vaccine. Two of the five were Black women — one a nurse and the other a doctor.
“My mother had COVID, my brother had COVID, in addition to my brother-in-law,” Shawn Hendricks, nursing director of medicine at UMMC and one of the “first five,” told Yahoo News in a video interview. “It took my mother two months to recover in the hospital from COVID. So I knew that COVID had already hit my family, and I didn’t want it to hit my household too.”
Dr. Sharon Henry, a professor of…