Smithsonian acquires COVID vaccine vial that administered first doses in US

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FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 is prepared at a vaccination center of the 3rd district, in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

(NEXSTAR) – A COVID-19 vaccine vial now has a place in the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History acquired the vial that delivered the first COVID-19 vaccine doses in the U.S., as well as the supplies needed to prepare, inject and track the vaccinations.

“The urgent need for effective vaccines in the U.S. was met with unprecedented speed and emergency review and approval,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director, in a statement.

“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.”

Included in the collection are artifacts donated by Sara Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at Northwell Health in New York, who is thought to have received the first vaccine dose. Alongside the vial, Northwell donated Lindsay’s vaccination record, 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,” said Northwell Health CEO and president Michael Dowling in a statement.

“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.”

In April 2020, realizing the historicity of the pandemic, Smithsonian set out to create a rapid-response collecting task force to “address the COVID-19 pandemic and document the scientific and medical events as well as the effects and responses in the areas of business, work, politics and culture.”

The collection includes other historic objects from the history of health and medicine, such as Jonas Salk’s original polio vaccine and penicillin mold from Alexander Fleming. Earlier this year, the museum acquired Dr. Anthony Fauci’s personal model of the coronavirus.

The museum is currently canvasing the nation to ask what it should collect in order to document the pandemic. To submit a suggestion, email inquiry@si.edu.

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