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"I can feel relief now": U.S. administers first doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. administers first doses of COVID vaccine
U.S. administers first doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine 04:03

A critical care nurse in New York received the first approved COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and vaccinations are now taking place in hospitals and clinics across the country. For the first time, the focus is on preventing the disease instead of just treating it.

As frontline workers across the country lined up to get their first dose, Sandra Lindsay at Long Island Jewish Medical Center got her's just after 9 a.m. ET, making her among the first in the country to receive the authorized vaccine.

"I hope this marks the beginning of the end of this painful time in our history. We're in a pandemic, so we all need to do our parts," said Lindsay. 

For Dr. Tina Wu of NYU Langone Health, the vaccine is more than just a shot, it's a prescription to get back to normal. "I haven't hugged my mom in 10 months out of fear. Now, I finally can," she said.

Across the country, the first 500,000 doses were delivered and carted into a sub-zero freezer. From Madison, Wisconsin, to the arms of front line workers at Ochsner Medical Center in Louisiana. Some, at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, were overcome with emotion.

"I think it was just knowing that finally something has happened good in this year and I'm going to be the first person to be the recipient of it," said Charmaine Pykosh, an advanced nurse practitioner at UPMC. 

Sandra Lindsay
Nurse Sandra Lindsay on Monday, December 14, 2020.  Mark Lennihan/AP/Bloomberg via Getty

There will be 2.9 million doses rolled out this week, with an additional 2.9 million next week, and 20 million by the end of the year. It will take at least five weeks for the first phase of vaccinations to be completed.

 "I can feel relief now, I know we still have a long road ahead of us, but I can see that light at the end of the tunnel now," said nurse LaShawn Scott of the University of Louisville Health. "I'm saving lives by getting this vaccination."

Three million residents in nursing homes were supposed to start getting their shots, too. Nearly 40% of covid deaths have occurred in those facilities but CBS News has learned that the Trump administration delayed the vaccine to most nursing homes working with the government's pharmacy partners, like CVS, to December 21 due to patient consent issues.

Coordinated nationwide effort underway to distribute COVID vaccine 01:55

FedEx and UPS said they made all their deliveries Monday and they're already in the process of loading up planes for Tuesday. One of the biggest challenges will be managing expectations, Walgreens had to cancel their vaccination event Monday in Michigan because their vaccine supply hasn't shipped yet.

The pandemic is continuing to shatter records and take lives. More than 300,000 people have died from the virus across the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

Kris Van Cleave contributed to this report.

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