A week after Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine made its way to Queens, Moderna’s vaccine, which recently received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration, began to be used to inoculate frontline workers at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream.
After more than 6,600 Northwell Health frontline workers were vaccinated last week with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Arlene Ramirez, a registered nurse and the director of patient care for the emergency department at the Northwell Health hospital, was one of the first to receive the new vaccine on Monday, Dec. 21.
Ramirez, an Ozone Park resident, previously contracted the virus in March. Longterm immunity from the virus isn’t proven, making the vaccine important for people like Ramirez to receive.
“This vaccine is hope, hope that we will cease this pandemic, hope that we can live a better life,” Ramirez, 44, said after receiving her shot. “We should not be afraid of the vaccine. We should be afraid of COVID.”
Ramirez’s father also was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the virus’s first wave in the city. He passed away from complications related to the virus earlier this year after spending more than a month in the ICU in the hospital where his daughter works.
The shot was administered by Michelle Chester, the director of employee health services at Northwell, on Monday. Chester was also the doctor of nurse practice to administer the vaccine to to Sandra Lindsay, the first person to receive the vaccine in the United States.
The Moderna vaccine varies slightly from Pfizer’s vaccine. It requires an extra seven days between doses – Pfizer’s requires 21 days and Moderna’s requires 28. The Moderna vaccine can also be stored safely at regular refrigerator temperature.
Despite the continued good news of the vaccines, Michael Dowling, Northwell’s CEO, pleaded with people to continue to practice COVID-19 precautions.
“Just because we have a vaccine, it is no excuse for people to stop wearing masks,” Dowling said. “We need about 70 percent of the population to get vaccinated in order to achieve heard immunity.”
Around 36,000 New Yorkers and over 318,000 people nationwide have been killed by the virus this year.