Pfizer Vaccine’s Full Approval Likely to Spur More Mandates

WASHINGTON — On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which, up until now, had only been available through the agency’s emergency use authorization. The move is likely to encourage more vaccine mandates by companies, universities and local governments. 

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., in a press release. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.” 

Locally, Ochsner Health cheered the development.

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“Today’s announcement from the FDA underscores the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine and confirms what we have been saying, which is that getting vaccinated is the best way to keep yourself, your family and our community safe from COVID-19,” said Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, an infectious disease specialist and co-leader of Ochsner Health’s COVID-19 response team, in a prepared statement. “The Pfizer vaccine has been administered to tens of millions of people and proven to be safe and effective against serious disease and death, with few documented serious side effects. We heard from several community members who were waiting on full FDA approval to get vaccinated and are hopeful that all eligible community members get their vaccines as soon as possible.”

Kemmerly said Ochsner said is currently caring for 967 COVID-19 patients statewide. Nearly 88% are unvaccinated.  

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has full FDA approval for individuals 16 years and older. Pfizer is also available to ages 12-15 under emergency use authorization. 

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