‘It gave me validation’ – says Guyanese born doctor who administered first COVID vaccine in US


By Lazeena Yearwood


Two years after Dr Michelle Chester administered the first COVID-19 vaccine to a nurse in the United States of America, she says the historical event transformed the lives of many and gave hope to an end to the pandemic.

Dr Chester is currently visiting her homeland to celebrate nurses who give extraordinary patient care. During an interview with the News Room on Thursday, Dr Chester explained that her experience represents a great achievement for all Guyanese.

Dr. Michelle Chester draws the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, Dec. 14. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

Touching on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, “It was heart-wrenching because seeing people that I work with lose a loved one, it was the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever seen.

“I’ve been in healthcare for nine years and I’ve never seen anything like it. It was truly a traumatic experience but it gave me validation that I was in the right field because I was there to help.”

On the day that the vaccine was administered, Dr Chester assisted with setting up the vaccination sites and she disclosed that she didn’t realise the magnitude of her actions until the day when she was told that she was making history.

“The only thing I realised was that we are starting the fight against COVID.

“Then I realised this is history. This is something that is forever memorialized and here I am leaving a legacy behind for my children and my grandchildren that their mom and grandmother did something not just for the US but I represent Guyana,” she said.

Dr Chester left Guyana when she was around six years old and has periodically visited Guyana; her last visit was in 2016.

She is the Corporate Director of Occupational Health at Northwell Hospital which has partnered with the Georgetown Public Hospital for the DAISY Foundation programme.

The News Room understands that Dr Chester administered the vaccine for the dreaded disease on December 14, 2020.

“I do not administer anything or any care without first believing in it. I did my research on all the different studies that were done and the effectiveness of the vaccine.

“I felt very comfortable administering the vaccine because I knew it was a way to whether we are just putting a halt to this, slowing down the spread but also stopping it,” Dr Chester said.

She is urging persons to continue the uptake of the vaccines and the boosters to protect themselves against the effects of the virus. She reminded that washing hands and usage of face masks is still paramount to stem the transmission of COVID-19 from person to person.

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