NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — After months of treating some of the sickest coronavirus patients in the New York City borough of Queens and losing two of her own family members to the virus, one intensive care unit nurse raised her hand to be among the first to take the coronavirus vaccine.
Just one week ago, Sandra Lindsay, the director of critical care nursing at a New York hospital, became the first person in the United States to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
“In my role as a leader, I think it’s very important to lead from the front, to lead by example,” Lindsay told NewsNation Monday. “I want my staff to feel inspired and encouraged to take the vaccine. So, I think it was very important for me. Also, having seen so much death and despair and harm and pain around me, I wanted to be a part of the solution to end this pandemic.”
With much skepticism about the vaccine, even from her staff, Lindsay led by example and she’s now encouraging Black Americans and members of minority communities to get vaccinated.
“History shows that there were harmful, inhumane treatments of (the Black) population, and so, I understand the hesitancy. I think we should not dismiss it, so I acknowledge it, I listen to people, and I take every opportunity to clarify any misconceptions to educate, and just dispel any myths that are out there about vaccines and vaccinations,” Lindsay said.
The mistrust of doctors, and public health, runs deep in the African American community because of what is known as the Tuskegee syphilis study.
The study, which took place in Tuskegee, Alabama, went on in the area for decades, from 1932 until 1972. About 600 Black men were part of the experiment run by the United States Public Health Service.
Most of the men had syphilis and were told they were being treated for “bad blood” and getting free healthcare and other incentives such as free meals on examination days.
What they did not know is the government was studying how syphilis ravaged their bodies, causing some to go blind, insane and die.
Nurse Lindsay’s message to the Black community and others who may be reluctant to get the vaccine is to seek medical advice.
“If they’re having any hesitancy, if they have questions, they should always remain curious because I believe that people should make informed decisions, Lindsay explained. “They should speak to their health care providers, speak to experts who are in the field, listen to the experts.”