Interview: Nurse who received 1st COVID vaccine honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse and Jamaican immigrant who received the first COVID vaccine outside of clinical trials, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday. Yahoo News caught up with Lindsay after the ceremony to get her thoughts on vaccination efforts and learn what the award means to her.

Video transcript


JOE BIDEN: When she was 18 years old, Sandra Lindsay emigrated to Queens, New York from Jamaica to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. As Director of Nursing and Critical Care at a hospital in Queens during the height of the pandemic, she poured her heart into helping patients fight for their lives and to keep their fellow nurses safe.

And when the time came, she was the first person in America to have fully vaccinated outside of clinical trials. Today, she receives our nation's highest civilian honor.


SANDRA LINDSAY: I feel like this is a great day for health care workers, for nurses, as I share this honor with all of them here in the United States and all around the world. Unfortunately, we lost over a million people, but we saved so many more lives thanks to health care workers who stayed the course, stayed committed, and are still committed to this day.

We still have some people left to get vaccinated. And I'm hoping that they haven't given up, that they're still having those conversations that are needed for them to make that decision. Just look at me, here I am today, almost three years later, I've gotten the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I'm alive and well. I feel great. I feel protected.

So my message to folks is to protect yourself because although we've made significant strides, COVID is still here with us and still poses a threat to you if you are not vaccinated and boosted. It's a great day for the immigrant community as well. I came here from Jamaica with a dream of becoming a nurse.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be here, but it just goes to show that we, as immigrants, come here. We contribute to this great nation. We do amazing things. And this, this here I share with my immigrant community. And it just goes to show that anything is possible.

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