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How Smithsonian Is Honoring 'This Extraordinary Period'

Vaccine vial, shipping containers among new artifacts
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 9, 2021 12:42 PM CST

(Newser) – The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has acquired the vial that contained the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine administered in the US as part of its plans to document the pandemic and "this extraordinary period we were going through." The acquisition, along with other materials related to that first vaccine dose, was announced by the museum on Tuesday to mark the upcoming one-year anniversary of the pandemic, per the AP. They include vials, special shipping equipment and the medical scrubs and ID badge of New York City nurse who was America's first coronavirus vaccine recipient. "We wanted objects that would tell the full story," said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum's director. "Everything from the scrubs to the freezer unit that shipped the vaccines."

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Although there are a host of coronavirus-related anniversaries taking place, the museum is choosing to mark Thursday—March 11, the day last year that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. That's also the week that much of American life shut down. "Our broadest mandate was to document this extraordinary period," said Diane Wendt, a curator in the museum's medicine and science department. The first dose of vaccine in the US was given on Dec. 14, 2020, by Northwell Health, a New York-based health provider, to Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse. The donation from Northwell includes the original Pfizer vials as well as the shipping container used to deliver the Pfizer doses packed in dry ice. (A donation from Anthony Fauci is also included.)

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