NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The grand marshal for New York City’s Hometown Heroes ticker-tape parade is critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay.

Lindsay was the first person in the U.S. to be immunized against COVID-19 after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine in December.

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She sat down with CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis to share what the day means.

From the frontlines of the pandemic, to first in line for the vaccine, Lindsay never flinched at a chance to combat COVID.

“Why be that first person outside of a clinical trial to get the vaccine?” DeAngelis asked.

“I saw it as my responsibility to save lives — professionally, that’s what I do — to give back. It’s part of my civic duty,” Lindsay replied.

SEE IT: Sandra Lindsay Arrives For Hometown Heroes Ticker-Tape Parade 

She hopes to inspire and instill confidence in the vaccine.

“Particularly among the communities that were, unfortunately, disproportionately affected, but who also are the most hesitant with trust in the science,” she said.

It was the turning point to an unforgettable and unimaginable year for the critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

“Tremendous amount of loss, and it was brutal, it was brutal. But what a difference a year makes, right?” she said.

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Looking back, it was the moments celebrating patients heading home that got her through.

“Those really were a result of the heroic efforts of our team members, who never gave up hope on these patients,” she said.

SEE IT: CBS2’s Kristine Johnson Greets Sandra Lindsay At Parade 

Lindsay said she is proud to be among those honored in the parade and privileged to be serving as grand marshal.

“I am so grateful. It feels like we’re getting a big hug all over again from the entire city. Those clap-outs at 7 p.m. really helped us every day,” she said.

Lindsay, who came to the U.S. from Jamaica at 18 years old, was recognized by President Joe Biden last weekend at the White House. She was presented with the Outstanding Americans By Choice award, which she called an honor representing health care workers and immigrants.

SEE IT: CBS2’s Chris Wragge Greets Sandra Lindsay At Parade 

On Wednesday, she was looking forward to personally thanking those who made a difference.

“The thousands of people — not just health care workers, but transportation workers, city workers, bodega workers — who really kept this city going,” she said. “You can help us out as health care workers, first responders and essential workers by getting vaccinated.”

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So we can celebrate crushing COVID-19 once and for all.

Jenna DeAngelis