Monday, we witnessed history as some of our nation’s frontline healthcare workers became the first Americans to be vaccinated against COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial. Yesterday, our state followed suit as healthcare providers at UW Medicine were among the first Washingtonians to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. We are not out of the woods yet, and we still have months to go before we can relax precautions like mask-wearing and physical distancing, but this milestone of scientific progress is a moment worth celebrating.
I join my colleagues at UW Medicine, including CEO and Dean of the School of Medicine Paul Ramsey, in expressing great confidence in the safety and efficacy of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines. I also join them in proudly pledging to get vaccinated as soon as I am eligible to receive a vaccine.
When our great public university joined Johns Hopkins University just a few months ago to convene a symposium with some of the world’s leading experts on the topic of vaccine development, approval and distribution, we all looked forward to this day. I am overjoyed that the promise of safe, effective, thoroughly-vetted vaccines is coming to fruition, just as the experts predicted at the symposium.
This scientific achievement is the product of extraordinary talent, collaboration and innovation, both directly in response to COVID-19 and in decades of fundamental research that enabled the vaccine development to move swiftly. At the University of Washington, we are proud to produce both types of research – the building blocks of understanding and the applied research that enables the kind of leap forward we are witnessing now.
Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this day possible – the unsung heroes whose research laid the groundwork for the vaccine, the scientists whose unrelenting efforts have resulted in multiple vaccine candidates, the tens of thousands of volunteers who took part in the vaccine trials, and the frontline and essential workers who will be the first to take part in the mass immunization effort that lies ahead.
I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as they become eligible. Together we can truly start to envision a future in which the pandemic is wholly in the past.