The Queens nurse who was the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in America will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Joe Biden announced on Friday.
Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Northwell Health and a native of Jamaica, was one of the 17 recipients chosen for the honor. She received her first jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on December 14th, 2020 and her second shot on January 4th, 2021.
Lindsay served on the front lines of the pandemic in one of the hardest-hit cities in the country. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials. In Biden’s announcement, she was also described as a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for health care workers.
“I am humbled and honored to be among the 17 extraordinary recipients of The Presidential Medal of Freedom!” Lindsey wrote in a LinkedIn post on Saturday. “This recognition is significant for me and my loved ones. It is also a huge recognition for my Northwell Health family, nurses and healthcare workers around the world, women, women of color, Jamaicans, minorities and immigrants to name a few!”
Images of her calm and courageous demeanor as she received her first shot were publicized as proof the U.S. was making progress in its fight against the deadly virus that has claimed more than 1 million lives to date.
“I feel hopeful today,” Lindsay said to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo after receiving the vaccine in 2020. “I'm relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history.”
Other names on Biden's Medal of Freedom list included former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, gold medalists Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe, actor Denzel Washington, the late Republican Sen. John McCain and the late co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs.
A ceremony will be held at the White House on July 7th.