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Monday was a momentous day in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. As the nation surpassed the grim milestone of 300,000 people dead due to COVID-19, the first Americans began receiving Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine against the virus, which received emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

As anticipated, high-risk health care workers are the first in line for inoculations; Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, N.Y., is believed to be the first American to receive the vaccine outside of a clinical trial. After front-line health workers, nursing home residents—who have accounted for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths—are expected to be next in terms of priority. The vaccine likely won’t be available to the vast majority of Americans until next spring at the earliest, according to government officials.

Still, the relief comes not a moment too soon. Coronavirus cases and deaths continue to escalate across the country, forcing many states to reinstitute lockdown measures that have already devastated huge swaths of the American economy. Health officials fear that the situation will only get worse over the course of the winter, and continue to warn Americans to wear face masks, avoid indoor and group gatherings, and practice social distancing.

But the arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the pending approval of Moderna’s own COVID-19 shot, offers hope to a nation whose very way of life has been upended by a once-in-a-century pandemic. With hundreds of sites across the U.S. set to receive the vaccine this week, the beginning of mass inoculations indicates that the tide may be turning against the virus—and that an end to all the death and economic devastation, and a return to normalcy, may finally be on the horizon.

Below, some images from the first day of the historical vaccine rollout in the U.S.:

US-Vaccine-Rollout
Nurse Sandra Lindsay bumps elbows with hospital publicist Joseph Kemp after she is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York.
Mark Lennihan—Pool/AFP/Getty Images
US-Vaccine-Rollout
Richard Guarino, BMC Supply Chain Operations Associate Director, delivers Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to the pharmacy at Boston Medical Center in Boston.
Jessica Rinaldi—The Boston Globe/Getty Images
Pharmacy technicians received a delivery of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin.
John Maniaci—UW Health/Reuters
US-Vaccine-Rollout
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear watches as Byron Bishop (C), a UPS driver, loads a container of COVID-19 vaccinations on a cart at University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
Jon Cherry—Getty Images
A frontline healthcare worker prepares to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the University Of Louisville Hospital in Louisville.
Scotty Perry—Bloomberg/Getty Images
US-Vaccine-Rollout
Pharmacy staff members unpack vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
Scotty Perry—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Syringes for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville.
Scotty Perry—Bloomberg/Getty Images
A freezer where vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are stored at the University Of Louisville Hospital in Louisville.
Scotty Perry—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Yves Duroseau, MD, chair of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital volunteers to be the second person to receive the Covid-19 vaccination at Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Medical Center during a press conference in Queens, New York.
Timothy A. Clary —AFP/Getty Images

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