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Artifacts from the first COVID-19 vaccination in the US are headed to the Smithsonian

Artifacts from the first COVID-19 vaccination in the US are headed to the Smithsonian


They’ll be shown in a 2022 exhibition at the National Museum of American History

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A Black woman sits in a chair while another Black woman holds her upper arm and prepares to administer the vaccine.
Sanda Lindsay receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Photo by Mark Lennihan - Pool/Getty Images

The glass vial used in the first US COVID-19 vaccination has been acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The museum also acquired related items including the scrubs and vaccination card of Sandra Lindsay, director of critical care nursing at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center who, on December 14th, 2020, became the first person in the US to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

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

The announcement on Tuesday happened days before the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the outbreak a pandemic. Since April 2020, a special task force at the museum has been seeking out objects and documentation related to COVID-19.

“We’ve had everything from offers of masks that people have made to objects related to treatment of Covid, to practitioners offering us objects related to how they’ve gone about protecting themselves or their family,” Alexandra Lord, chair of the museum’s division of medicine and science, told Smithsonian Magazine.

The vial and other items are joining the museum’s collection of materials related to historic epidemics and pandemics, including objects related to the polio epidemic, the 1957 influenza pandemic, and the HIV / AIDS pandemic. Many items from the collection will be on display in a 2022 exhibition, “In Sickness and in Health.”