The US and Canada began the vaccination drive against coronavirus with Pfizer-BioNTech doses on Monday. Both countries have started administering the coronavirus vaccine shots to healthcare workers and elderly citizens this week.
In the US, Sandra Lindsay, a nurse by profession, became the first person to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. Whereas in Canada, Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker, got the first dose.
Lindsay received a Pfizer-BioNTech shot on television because of lingering scepticism about the vaccine.
In an interview with a US newspaper, Lindsay said, "That was a goal today...not to be the first one to take the vaccine but to inspire people who look like me, who are sceptical in general about taking vaccines".
Lindsay, who works at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre, said she wanted to lead as an example, particularly as a Black woman who faced the legacy of unequal and racist medical treatment.
Lindsay added, "It didn't feel any different from taking any other vaccine...I hope this marks the beginning of the end of the very painful time in our history."
Last week, the US FDA approved the emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 16 years of age or older.
Whereas, Canada recently amended its contract with Pfizer and BioNTech so that it would deliver up to 249,000 doses this month.
Canada has contracts with six other vaccine makers and is currently reviewing three other vaccines, including one by Moderna.
"This is a victory day for science," said Dr Kevin Smith, president and CEO of Toronto's University Health Network. "Here we are today breaking the back of this horrible virus."
A few days ago, Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first patient in the world to receive a coronavirus vaccine shot in the UK. Keenan also received the shots of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.
Several countries, including Canada, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine for emergency approval. The company's mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, has shown 95 per cent efficacy at preventing COVID-19.
The vaccinations come at one of the darkest phases of the pandemic, with cases in several countries soaring, and health experts still struggling against vaccine skepticism, lockdown fatigue, and uneven adherence to safety rules.
On Monday, the Netherlands was preparing to enter its strictest lockdown since the pandemic began, Britain announced new restrictions on London, and Turkey said it would go into a four-day lockdown over the New Year holidays.
The US -- which has the globe's highest death toll, and the largest number of reported cases at 1.65 crore -- passed 300,000 deaths just hours after the vaccinations began. Worldwide, there have been at least 1,691,399 deaths since the outbreak emerged in China last December, and 7.27 crore cases overall, , according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.