Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams joined faculty and administrators of George Washington University Hospital on Monday as the first doses of the facility’s initial coronavirus vaccine doses were administered, with Azar urging Americans not to let their guard down against the disease.
“We’re here today because of the extraordinary medical achievement our country has delivered this week through President Trump’s ‘Operation Warp Speed,’” HHS Secretary Azar said while speaking at the “National Ceremonial COVID-19 Vaccination Kick Off Event.” “Today health care providers across America are going to work to administer vaccines to those most vulnerable, and their coworkers.”
Azar said Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine has been through the regulatory process and additional stringent review processes before it was granted EUA by the FDA.
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“At 95% efficacy this vaccine is extraordinary at protecting you from the virus,” he said. “Getting vaccinated will help keep you, your family and your country safe.”
Five health care workers received the first of the two-dose vaccine during the press conference. The second dose will be given in about three weeks.
All recipients, which included an anesthesiologist, several from labor and delivery units, and an emergency room physicians said the shot didn’t feel any different from the ones they had received prior.
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“Vaccinations have been a tried and true public health measure for hundreds of years, but the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is nothing short of revolutionary,” Adams said, adding that the focus must now move from focusing on the vaccines to actually vaccinating people and that they must work to ensure equal access to vaccines for all.
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He urged Americans to continue to follow public health measures and to get their flu shots.
Azar also cautioned that Monday marked the first step in a lengthy battle and that Americans would have to continue to practice public health measures in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“We need you to be vigilant, we need you to do that because we want everybody who is here now to be here next year for the holiday season,” Azar said. “Now is not the time to let our guard down. This is not the end of our battle against COVID but today marks a critical milestone in the ultimate defeat of COVID-19.”