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COVID Vaccine Anniversary: Nurse Sandra Lindsay Looks Back -- And Forward -- Since Being First In U.S. To Receive Shot

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It was on Tuesday one year ago that a Long Island nurse made history, as the first American to be inoculated against COVID-19 with an approved vaccine.

And in that year, hundreds of millions more followed suit.

But Sandra Lindsay told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff her job is not over yet.

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Lindsay stands just 5-foot-3, but the Northwell Health nurse shoulders a heavy weight.

One year ago, with the pandemic raging, a needle in her arm became a national first. She became the emblem of a turning point.

"I am incredibly honored to hold this place in history, to be an activist for vaccinations," Lindsay said.


Since then, more than 200 million Americans have become fully vaccinated. Yet, poorer nations lag behind. Worldwide, fewer than 50% are vaccinated, and the moonshot medical marvel has been met with hesitancy.

Still, 40% of Americans, including 30% of New Yorkers are not fully vaccinated.

"This has always been our ticket out," Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

An admittedly frustrated Hochul said surges and mandates would be in the rearview mirror if all New Yorkers did the right thing.

"We have a a vaccine that works. Remember that moment. It was the turning point and, today, I should be able to say it's over because everyone took advantage of this opportunity created by science," Hochul said.

READ MOREStudents Send Letters Of Appreciation To ICU Nurse Sandra Lindsay, Who Was First In U.S. To Receive COVID Vaccine

Some New Yorkers still have their reasons for not getting the jab.

"I needed more time to see how it was progressing with other people," one person said.

"I am shocked that so many people are so hesitant," another said.

Since the shot seen around the world, Lindsay has lived a whirlwind year. She was honored at the White House and in New York City's "Canyon of Heroes," and has spread the message that accurate information is critical.

"There are people who are so far gone with the conspiracy theories and the misinformation and you're not going to change those minds. What you want to focus on are the people who are still not sure and want more of their questions answered," Lindsay said.


As COVID-19 numbers surge again, she noted her sickest ICU patients are not vaccinated.

"We are seeing younger people coming in unvaccinated and it's heartbreaking because it doesn't have to be this way," Lindsay said.

Her journey has been a marathon that doesn't want to end.

"I'm hoping a year from now when we are talking again, we will be talking about the virus in the past tense. We just unite as a country and a world," Lindsay said.

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And while spreading the vaccine message and tending to critically ill COVID patients, the 53-year-old grandmother also completed her doctorate in global health. She is planning to continue to make a difference.

Lindsay said she is most inspired by regular New Yorkers who tell her often her example has helped them decide to get vaccinated.

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