Doctors hope FDA approval of Pfizer vaccine boosts confidence

Some cited hesitancy due to emergency authorization

FILE - In this March 2, 2021, file photo, pharmacy technician Hollie Maloney loads a syringe with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine. The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) (Robert F. Bukaty, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Public health experts and doctors are hopeful that the Food and Drug Administration’s decision Monday to give the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine its full approval for anyone age 16 and above will help lift public confidence and push some holdouts toward getting the shots. It could also spur more vaccine mandates by companies, universities and local governments.

More than 200 million doses already have been administered in the U.S. since emergency use began in December, so the FDA has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety.

President Joe Biden calls it a key milestone in our battle with coronavirus, including its highly infectious delta variant.

“If you’re one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot when until it has his full final approval of the FDA, it has now happened,” Biden said. “The moment that you’ve been waiting for is here it’s time for you to go get your vaccination.”

The FDA has moved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from emergency status to fully approved, opening the door to a flood of new vaccine mandates.

Pfizer’s shot will now be marketed as Comirnaty.

“With this full FDA approval, I am very confident that we can really work toward ending the pandemic once and for all,” said Dr. Chirag Patel, assistant chief medical officer at UF Health Jacksonville.

As vaccinations trailed off in early July and hospital beds began filling up, Patel said now that the shot is FDA approved just like Tylenol, it should alleviate vaccine hesitancy.

“I think today’s announcement is going to resonate around the country,” said Patel. “The FDA approves all solidifies what I think nearly every healthcare provider has been saying.”

The move is expected to open the door to more vaccine mandates. Biden imposed mandates to federal employees last month, now he’s encouraging private companies to do the same.

“If your business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I calling (on) you now to do it,” said Biden.

The Pentagon immediately announced it’ll require service members to receive the shot. Earlier this month, New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans all said they’ll require proof of vaccination for indoor activities.

Here in Jacksonville, the University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville both say they are not mandating the vaccine based on the FDA’s approval.

Jacksonville University sent a statement saying it already required vaccinations of faculty and staff but won’t require it of students.

News4Jax reached out to Mayor Lenny Curry’s office and the Chamber of Commerce about whether they would begin requiring vaccines. We are waiting for replies.

Pfizer’s shot still has emergency use authorization for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Moderna has also applied to the FDA for full approval of its vaccine. Johnson and Johnson hopes to do the same later this year.

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