Artifacts from 1st Covid vaccination in US enters Smithsonian


Two empty glass vials, scrubs, vaccination card and a hospital identification badge — part of the first Covid-19 vaccination in the US on December 14, 2020 — have been acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which will be displayed in a 2022 exhibition, and beyond.

The Covid vial and other items are joining the museum’s collection of materials related to historic epidemics and pandemics. These include objects related to the polio epidemic, the 1957 influenza pandemic, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The first dose of vaccine was administered by Northwell Health, a New York-based health provider, to Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse, on December 14.

“The urgent need for effective vaccines in the US was met with unprecedented speed and emergency review and approval. 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,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director.

Northwell donated Lindsay’s vaccination record card, scrubs and hospital identification badge.

Northwell also donated the now empty Pfizer-BioNTech vial that contained the first dose of approved vaccine dispensed in the US, as well as objects related to vaccine distribution and the effort to encourage Americans to get vaccinated.

In April 2020, the museum had formed a rapid-response collecting task force to address the Covid-19 pandemic and document the scientific and medical events as well as the effects and responses in the areas of business, work, politics and culture.

“Due to health and safety protocols, the museum is only able to bring in a limited number of artifacts into the building. Additional artifacts related to the pandemic will be brought in and processed when the museum returns to full operation,” it said in a statement.

The museum’s staff also canvassed the nation, asking what it should collect to document this pandemic.

The US marks one-year anniversary of the pandemic this month and has surpassed a death toll of more than 525,000 people.