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American nurses are becoming iconic images of hope as they receive the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations approved for emergency use.  A gathering of reporters, officials, and healthcare providers applauded when they witnessed the first vaccination in Oklahoma, as Erica Arrocha, RN administered the state’s first Covid-19 vaccination to a colleague, RN Hanna White, at Integris Baptist Medical Center. White told reporters, “Hopefully this is the start of something better.”

California nurse Helen Cordova was the first in the state to get a Covid shot.
ICU nurse and NP Helen Cordova was the first Californian to get a Covid shot.

New York ICU nurse Sandra Lindsay, the first US healthcare worker to receive a shot, told journalists, “I trust the science,” as her vaccination was recorded and livestreamed to millions of viewers.

The first in line for vaccination in Minnesota was Minneapolis frontline VA nurse Thera Witte, who declared, “I’m feeling hopeful that this is the beginning of the end” of the deadly pandemic that has so far taken over 377,000 lives in the US and 1.65 million lives worldwide.

There were even impromptu parties. When the first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine arrived in Boston, there was dancing in the streets (or the hospital parking lot)—on a chilly Massachusetts day in December-—that immediately went viral.

The first Californian to be vaccinated had initially been dubious. ICU nurse and NP Helen Cordova at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center changed her mind, but she still understands the mistrust. Her training, though, prompted her to research the science behind the new vaccines: “That’s probably the best thing to do, educate ourselves, get the information ourselves,” she told ABC7 in LA. “As I started to dig in a little more, I felt more at ease. I started changing my stance on it. I went from ‘absolutely not’ to ‘sure, here’s my arm, let’s do it!’”

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“It’s important not just for me, but for all of those that I love.” In New Jersey, the first to roll up her sleeve was Maritza Beniquez, an emergency department nurse at University Hospital in Newark. As state governor Phil Murphy looked on with journalists and healthcare workers, Beniquez was exuberant after receiving the state’s first SARS-2 shot on her birthday: “I couldn’t wait for this moment to hit New Jersey. I couldn’t wait for it to hit the U.S!”

And as humans cannot resist an opportunity to thrill one another with foreboding rumors of sinister events, false social media posts started to appear almost as soon as states began to vaccinate healthcare workers. So, if patients, friends, or family cite the nonexistent “42-y/o nurse in Alabama found dead 8-10 hours” later from anaphylactic shock, well, what did you expect? Share a real social media event like the Boston MC flash mob, and tell them you’re keeping your mask on even after your second vaccination, as epidemiologists say we will probably have to wait until mid-late 2021 to gauge the efficacy of the vaccines.

Boston Medical Center workers went all out to celebrate the arrival of the vaccine.
Koren Thomas
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