NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three of the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine recipients got booster shots on Wednesday.
They are front-line workers and, therefore, eligible for the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.READ MORE: Dr. Max Gomez On How Colin Powell's Medical Conditions May Have Played A Role In His Death Due To COVID Complications
But as CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the heath care community still has a number of holdouts for their first shots.
They were all smiles under masks, as doctors and nurses received their third shots, COVID boosters, which are now recommended for health care workers and other front-line occupations.
“We believe a fully vaccinated workforce and community is the way to get out of this pandemic,” said Dr. David Battinelli, Northwell Health‘s chief medical officer.
Among them was LIJ ICU nurse Sandra Lindsay, who was the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine back in December. Now, she’s spreading the word that boosters are safe and effective in fighting the deadly virus.
“I am continuing to protect myself, while also protecting my community,” Lindsay said.
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Boosters are now available to a long list of those over age 65, with underlying medical conditions, and in high-risk settings.
The vaccine mandate list is also growing. New York will require vaccines for workers in adult care facilities and home health care programs.
However, while boosters are celebrated, Northwell let go 1,400 staff members who refused their first shots.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect For Workers At New Jersey Schools, Colleges, Universities And State Agencies
Registered nurse Donna Schmidt founded the group New Yorkers Against Medical Mandates.
“The science, quite frankly, is still very much outstanding and very much globally still developing,” Schmidt said.
Nurse Thomas Dowling was suspended after refusing the vaccine based on his religious beliefs.
“Threatening our livelihoods to force something into our bodies against our will? That’s persecution,” Dowling said.
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Lindsay said she is trying to dispel misinformation.
“If I can change one person’s mind a day, that’s good for me. If everybody who have had positive experiences and believes in the science and does the same, we can get through this together,” Lindsay said.
The anti-vaccine Northwell employees represent less than 2% of its staff of 76,000, and Battinelli said they would be welcomed back if and when they change their mind.
“We have approached this with adequate amount of compassion, education an patience, but the real way to get through this pandemic is to make sure everyone is safe,” Battinelli said.
Northwell workers are encouraged but not required to get booster shots.MORE NEWS: FDA, CDC May Approve COVID Vaccine Booster Shots For More Americans This Week