COVID 1 Year Later: Vaccine And Road Ahead

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas has a look at the various vaccines and their efficacy as Americans hope and pray the shots will lead to life returning as normal sooner rather than later.

Video Transcript

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: It was a shot seen around the world. On December 14, the Queen's ICU nurse became the first person in the country, outside of clinical trials, to receive a COVID vaccine. It began the largest vaccination effort, that's already come with plenty of obstacles. Long Island Jewish Medical Center ICU Nurse Sandra Lindsay had no idea she volunteered to be in the history books.

SANDRA LINDSAY: Protecting myself, the community, my patients, my family, leading by example, and also instilling public trust.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: The medical community was first in line for what had become a long-awaited scientific breakthrough.

REBECCA PELLETT MADAN: This never would have been possible without the volunteers who took a risk, trusted us, came in, and were willing to help us find out if the vaccine was safe.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: More than 1,000 New Yorkers volunteered to participate in NYU Langone's various clinical trials that included the Pfizer vaccine. Their results added to similar trials around the world.

REBECCA PELLETT MADAN: It's a lot of phone calls and very intense, steady visits and blood draws to make sure that the vaccine is safe.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: All of that before the FDA approved it for the general public. But getting a safe and effective vaccine was just the first hurdle.

- If they don't give a vaccine, if they don't vaccinate us, at least give us an appointment.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Cumbersome online portals to make appointments to limited vaccine supply led to mounting frustration as eligibility widened.

DAVID JEFFERSON: What you want to do then is go to the point of the pain.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: The data across the tri-state area showed an alarming trend. Black and brown communities, hardest hit by COVID, were the least likely to get the vaccine. It was first blamed on hesitancy, based on years of mistrust of the medical community, but Reverend Doctor David Jefferson of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, saw an even bigger issue.

DAVID JEFFERSON: We, in particular, do not have a ton of Walgreens and CVS in our community, but guess what we do have? We have churches.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: After pressing State and local leaders, vaccines arrived at Metropolitan's Community Center. Jefferson was among a coalition of pastors who rolled up their sleeves to show their faith in the process. Now Metropolitan has a waiting list of others ready to do the same.

DAVID JEFFERSON: We had 1,000 people that registered, that needed vaccines, I got a call that, we're going to have 1,000, and we're going to be able to clear those people.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Across the region, neighborhoods that were once hot spots are now beginning to be prioritized. Meantime, the coronavirus is mutating into a more contagious disease and remains a threat.

SANDRA LINDSAY: The volume is not there, but the clinical conditions are just as bad. And as I said, younger and younger.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: It creates an even greater sense of urgency to get more shots into people's arms.

ANTHONY FAUCI: Very likely the end of May, the beginning of June, when we will have many, many more doses of vaccines that you could actually give to people.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: And it's the key to getting to a new normal. The FDA has approved Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine. It's one shot, effective in preventing serious illness, and does not have the same refrigeration requirements as Moderna and Pfizer's vaccine. It's been described as a game-changer and will provide a much needed boost to the vaccine supply. Aundrea Cline-Thomas, CBS 2 News.