Women of Color Among First to Get Covid-19 Vaccine in U.S.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has shipped throughout the U

Covid vaccinations frontline workers

Photo: Twitter/@GavinNewsom/@NYGovCuomo

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has shipped throughout the U.S. and frontline health care workers in New York City and Los Angeles are among the first to get it. Intensive care nurse Helen Cordova was inoculated on Monday in a conference room at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center along with four other healthcare workers. L.A. County is scheduled to receive 82,875 doses as part of its initial vaccine shipment, officials said according to the Los Angeles Times.

Also on Monday, California had the largest number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day — 42,129, according to a Times county-by-county tally. with the death toll in LA County surpassing 8,000. African American, Black, and Latinx residents have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 according to the LA County Public Health Department. During the July peak, the mortality rate among Latino/Latinx residents was 6 deaths per 100,000 people, four times that of White residents who had a mortality rate of 1.5 deaths per 100,000 people. During that same period, the mortality rate among African American/Black residents was 4 deaths per 100,000 people, almost three times that of White residents. The Public Health Dept. reports that since then mortality rates have decreased among both communities.

The impact the virus has had on communities of color gives greater significance to the fact that the face of the first vaccination is that of a Latina in LA and a Black woman in NYC. Nurse Maritza Beniquez, who proclaimed she’s a “proud Latina American,” got the first vaccine in New Jersey at the University Hospital in Newark. Sandra Lindsay is a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center has been working the frontline for 10 months caring for COVID-19 patients. Dr. Michelle Chester, the corporate director of employee health services at Northwell Health, delivered the shot during a live video event on Monday.  With the vaccination, followed by a second dose in 21 days, she’ll be able to engage with people more safely and says she trusts the science behind the vaccine despite concerns it was rushed.

“I have no fear,” Lindsay told CNN. “I trust the science. My profession is deeply rooted in science. I trust science. What I don’t trust is getting Covid-19, because I don’t know how it will affect me and the people around me that I could potentially transfer the virus to.”

The first batch of the vaccine was shipped out from a Pfizer plant in Portage, Michigan, on Sunday headed for over 600 sites across all 50 states, CNN reports. The CDC has recommended that frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities get the vaccine first.

“I want to be a part of the solution to put an end to this pandemic once and for all,” Lindsay told CNN. “I think also as a leader in the organization that I lead by example. I don’t ask people to do anything that I would not do myself.”

The first 3 million shots are exclusively for front-line health workers and nursing home patients. The Moderna vaccine, set to roll out to the public soon, is similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech but it does not need to be kept in the deep freeze at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The U.S. government has purchased 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and orders for 200 million doses of the Moderna serum which would be enough to vaccinate 150 million Americans by mid-2021, according to the Associated Press.

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