The Smithsonian received vials from the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered in the United States, along with the vaccination card for the nurse who received the first vaccine -- Sandra Lindsay. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History
March 9 (UPI) -- The Smithsonian National Museum of American History announced Tuesday it's acquired the vial of the first-known COVID-19 vaccine doses in the United States along with other paraphernalia from the first inoculation.
The acquisition is part of the museum's effort to document and preserve key milestones of the novel coronavirus, which has killed some 524,000 people in the United States as of Tuesday midday.
Northwell Health administered the first Pfizer vaccine to one of its Long Island Jewish Medical Center nurses, Sandra Lindsay, on Dec. 14. The healthcare organization donated the now-empty vial that contained the vaccine as well as Lindsay's vaccination record card, scrubs and hospital identification badge.
"Northwell was prepared to put shots in arms as soon as the vaccine arrived, not to make history but to protect our frontline workers battling COVID-19 as quickly as possible," Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, said. "But when Sandra Lindsay rolled up her sleeve, we weren't just showing our team members the safety and efficacy of this groundbreaking vaccine -- we were telling the world that our country was beginning a new fight back to normalcy.
"It was an extraordinary moment, and I thank the Smithsonian for preserving this important milestone."
The museum also received additional empty vials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, supplies including diluent, syringes and vaccination record cards, and shipping materials.
Museum officials formed a collecting task force to document and preserve artifacts from the pandemic in April 2020, though the effort has been somewhat hampered by lockdowns and other restrictions.
"The urgent need for effective vaccines in the U.S. was met with unprecedented speed and emergency review and approval," said Anthea Hartig, the museum's Elizabeth MacMillan director. "These now historic artifacts document not only this remarkable scientific progress but represent the hope offered to millions living through the cascading crises brought on by COVID-19."
In addition to COVID-19 items, the National Museum of American History has a collection of other science and medicine artifacts, including penicillin mold from Alexander Fleming, the original polio vaccine, early genetically engineered drugs and 19th century patent medicines.