NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There were some huge milestones on the coronavirus vaccine front on Tuesday.
In the United Kingdom, the much-anticipated vaccine program got underway, with the mass rollout from Pfizer. Here in the U.S., the FDA said there are more positive findings from the vaccine ahead of its final recommendations, expected on Thursday.
FDA data presented to the vaccine advisory group Tuesday indicated the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech worked well regardless of a volunteer’s race, weight or age. And more good news: It provided strong protection against COVID-19 within about 10 days of the first dose.
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That’s good news for 90-year-old U.K. grandmother Maggie Keenan — the first person on the globe to receive it.
“I say go for it. Go for it because it’s history, and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened. So do please go for it,” Keenan said.
And in keeping with the historic nature of the day second in line, so poetically correct, was William Shakespeare of Warwickshire.
The U.K.’s first 800,000 doses are going to the most vulnerable: Hospital and nursing home workers, and the elderly.
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A similar plan is in the works here. Once all safety and efficacy approvals are granted, 170,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are expected in New York by Dec. 15. Nursing home residents and health care workers will be among the first to receive it.
Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Discusses COVID Response
But during his press briefing Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio compared the months ahead to fighting a war.
“This is the last big battle before us. And then the vaccine, we’ll be able to do it, to work. So, everyone, when you think about how important it is to get through December, get through January, into February. Listen, think of it this way, this is the last big battle before us. And then the vaccine we’ll be able to do its work,” de Blasio said.
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There are still many hurdles ahead, including convincing a skeptical population that the vaccine is safe. Health + Hospitals official Ted Long said gaining patient trust is critical.
“As a primary care doctor, what I tell my patients is I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself, so you can count on me receiving the vaccine after I’ve reviewed the evidence,” Long said.
Dr. Stephen Morse is professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
“We don’t know how long the immunity lasts, but it certainly seems to be good for at least 120 days, probably more,” Morse told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
Still, there’s skepticism about the vaccine. On Tuesday night, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci urged confidence in a conversation with leaders of a coalition of black doctors, faith leaders and academics. Studies suggest Black Americans are less likely to get vaccinated than other ethnic groups.
“The first thing you might want to say to my African-American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine you’re going to be taking was developed by an African-American woman, and that is just a fact,” Fauci said.
The U.S. has an order for 100 million doses, pending FDA approval.
As for Keenan, after self-isolating for most of 2020, she is thankful the vaccine will allow her to see her family again in the New Year.
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