New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hosted a televised update Monday that saw critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay receive one of the first doses of the vaccine.
"I believe this is the weapon that will end the war. This is the beginning of the last chapter of the book," he said, ahead of the public vaccination in New York City.
Lindsay said she felt "hopeful and relieved" about the shot.
"It didn't feel any different from taking any other vaccine," she told reporters.
President Trump tweeted news of the first shot. His administration's Operation Warp Speed helped accelerate the distribution and production of a vaccine to combat the pandemic, working with pharmaceutical companies and distribution networks to roll out the vaccine.
Pfizer's vaccine was the first to receive an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Moderna has also applied for an authorization for its vaccine and is expected to obtain it this week.
The first shipments of Pfizer's vaccine started arriving in states around the country on Monday, with health care workers set to begin 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 Monday. Experts have said at least 75% of people need to get the vaccine to achieve widespread "herd 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 includingthrough 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 thethree 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 thatin New York City is set to be suspended due to the coronavirus surge. 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.