This year has brought with it a lot of amazing internet content — a good thing considering most of us have had to live our lives entirely online. In 2020, we've laughed at out-of-touch celebrities singing, we've made everything into cake, and we've worshipped at the altar of Gritty. It's all been wildly entertaining, but the internet content that has — by far! — sparked the most joy rolled out just this week, and it unexpectedly isn't just meant for those of us who are extremely online. I'm talking, of course, about the videos of nurses and other frontline healthcare workers receiving their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the past couple of days, I have been unable to stop watching them, and I know I'm not the only one.
Late last Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine emergency approval. Shortly after that, videos of powerful people talking about the historic event — cut with b-roll of the vaccine being shipped in dry ice containers — began circulating on the news and across social media. Those videos were great, but they were nothing compared to the ones of healthcare workers actually getting vaccinated. I saw the first of these videos on Monday morning, and it broke me in the best possible way. The video featured Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. A local of Queens, she was the first recipient of the vaccine in the United States. Given our healthcare system's racist history and how Black people have been disproportionately affected by this deadly virus, the gravity of watching a Black woman receive the first dose of the vaccine was incredibly powerful. And the fact that it was administered to Lindsay by another Black woman medical professional? It was almost too much to handle.
After Lindsay got her injection, she addressed the news cameras. "I would like to thank all the front line workers, all my colleagues who've been doing a yeoman's job to fight this pandemic all over the world," she said. "I feel hopeful today, I feel relieved. I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We're in a pandemic and we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic and to not give up too soon. There's light at the end of the tunnel."
Since then, more videos of those who have put their lives on the line for months and given up time with their loved ones in order to keep the rest of us safe getting their first shots have flooded my timeline. I've watched a nurse at the Winchester Medical Center in Virginia sob through her Mickey Mouse Christmas mask as she got vaccinated, an ER nurse at Pennsylvania Hospital laugh with his friend and former nursing school classmate as she administered his vaccine, a respiratory therapist at UW Health be cheered on by her co-workers as she received her dose, and an ICU doctor at UC Davis Health sending proof he got his vaccine to his worried big sister. I'm so moved by each and every one of these videos that, even though I don't love needles myself, I somehow don't even mind watching all those tiny needles piercing through skin. All I can think about is how these videos show the humanity of those who have been on the frontlines helping others throughout this terrible period.
There have also been more typical internet-y takes on these big moments. Yesterday, Boston Medical Center shared a TikTok that featured the hospital's staff dancing to Lizzo's "Good As Hell' in celebration of the arrival of the hospital's first shipment of vaccines. It has already garnered 144,500 likes and been widely shared on other social media platforms. I dare you not to cry when you see these healthcare workers decked out in scrubs and PPE, breaking it down to Lizzo belting, "Woo girl, need to kick off your shoes. Got to take a deep breath, time to focus on you. All the big fights, long nights that you been through." Michigan Medicine, too, shared a compilation of hospital employees receiving the vaccine, set to soulful and inspiring music that's sure to move you.
In so many of these videos, the doctors, nurses, and hospital support staff express optimism that this is a turning point after an emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding year. The vaccine has been described as a "light at the end of the tunnel" by so many of them. Sharing their experience working in healthcare in the year 2020 and what it feels like when you receive the vaccine is yet another selfless act from these folks who have already given so much. The clips assuage fear, encourage trust in science, and give hope, all things we've been so desperate for throughout the past several months and couldn't get from Gal Gadot singing "Imagine," Croc cakes, or any other 2020 internet artifact. No, not even Gritty.
Throughout the past nine months, I've used the internet speak, "inject it into my veins" many, many times when referring to funny, uplifting, or delightfully unhinged content. These videos, however, have shown me I've never truly meant it until now.