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A look back at the pandemic journey one year after first COVID-19 vaccine administered in U.S.

On Dec. 14, 2020, a nurse in New York was the first person in the United States to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial.

CLEVELAND — One year ago on Dec. 14, 2020, a nurse in New York named Sandra Lindsay became the first person in the United States to receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial.

Ohio followed suit, beginning to vaccinate healthcare workers that same month.

“This really is the day we’ve been waiting for, it starts the process of the end,” said Governor Mike DeWine at the time.

From that initial Pfizer shot, additional vaccines gained emergency use authorization from the FDA., with Moderna gaining emergency use authorization on Dec. 18, 2020, and Johnson & Johnson’s single dose shot following on Feb. 27, 2021.

Along with advances in vaccines since Dec. of 2020, there have also been new variants that have developed and spread.

On Dec. 30, 2020, the first case of the U.K. variant was found in the United States in Colorado, according to the CDC. The first case of the Brazil variant was found in the U.S. on Jan. 25, 2021, and the first U.S. South African case was found in South Carolina three days later.

More recently, the delta and omicron variants have spread across the world and in Ohio.

"The Delta Variant appears to have gotten a second wind,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff on Nov. 18, 2021. “Hospitalizations have significantly increased and right now, one in seven patients in our hospitals has COVID-19.”

On Tuesday, Cleveland Clinic said they are seeing some of the highest volumes of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are about 800 patients hospitalized with COVID in their Ohio health systems. They added about 200 of them are in the ICU, and about 80% are unvaccinated.

“We are seeing one of the highest volumes since the pandemic started almost two years ago,” said Dr. Oluwatosin Goje, a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive infectious disease at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Goje describes getting her first COVID-19 vaccine in Dec. of 2020 as symbolizing a shining light in the fight against the pandemic.

“I was really excited to get my first vaccine December of last year,” she said. “And I did not think we’ll be where we are today.”

Now, Dr. Goje is seeing an increase in people hospitalized with COVID. She says the biggest surprise over the past year has been the misinformation that has circulated and prevented some people from getting the vaccine.

“There was a lot of misinformation, and we’ve been talking about the misinformation and we will not give up,” she said. “We will keep encouraging people, we will keep explaining the science behind the vaccine.”

Dr. Goje emphasized the safety of vaccines and their importance in battling this pandemic.

“When you get your vaccine, you’re not just taking care of yourself," she said. "You’re taking care of that loved one who needs that hospital bed for something else."

Roughly two years into the pandemic, Dr. Goje said she knows people are growing weary of taking precautions to stay safe. But she said she will continue encouraging people to get vaccinated, and will continue debunking COVID vaccine myths.

“I understand the COVID fatigue, I truly understand,” she said. “But let’s look at it as a way of getting some normalcy, and helping our system.”

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