The US Covid-19 vaccination has began, as the country gears up for its largest ever immunization campaign.
Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse in Long Island, New York, is believed to have been the first person to be given the vaccine.
Millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are being distributed, with 150 hospitals expected to receive them on December 14.
The US vaccination program aims to reach 100 million people by April.
Covid-19 fatalities are nearing 300,000 in the US, which has by far the world’s highest death toll.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received emergency-use authorization from the FDA on December 11.
President Donald Trump tweeted following the news from New York: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”
The roll-out of the vaccine comes as the epidemic continues to ravage the US. Deaths have been rising sharply since November and the number of people in hospital with the disease has also continued to grow steadily, with more than 109,000 people currently admitted, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, received the vaccine live on camera. Footage was streamed on the Twitter feed of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state was the epicenter of the US epidemic in the first wave earlier this year.
She said: “It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine.
“I hope 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 our part.”
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – a collaboration between a US pharmaceutical giant and a German biotechnology company – offers up to 95% protection and is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved by US regulators.
The vaccine is already being rolled out in the UK, while Canada is also beginning its inoculation program on December 14, with an initial 30,000 doses going to 14 sites across the country.
Anita Quidangen, a caregiver at the Rekai Centre nursing home in Toronto, was the first to receive the vaccine in Canada.
The first three million doses in the US are being distributed to dozens of locations across all 50 states by cargo plane and truck.