Health officials hope full FDA approval for Pfizer vaccine will ease vaccine hesitancy


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The first vaccine to receive emergency use authorization in the fight against COVID-19 is also the first to get full FDA approval. The Pfizer vaccine received that designation on Monday which, in theory, should ease vaccine hesitancy.

20 months after receiving FDA emergency use authorization, the same agency gave Pfizer full approval as a safe and effective vaccine at combatting COVID for those 16 and older. The approval is one less barrier for unvaccinated people to get the shot.

“When you do surveys of people who have been hesitant to get vaccinated, you find that a good third of them really keep saying well we want actual FDA approval,” said Geisinger Director of Infectious Diseases, Stan Martin MD.

Dr. Stan Martin says many who’ve been reluctant to get the vaccine simply lack an adequate understanding of what exactly the vaccine, which is about 90% effective can do when it comes to the spread of novel coronavirus and its variants.

“Having a vaccine and having a 10% chance of getting the infection versus not getting the vaccine and having a 100% chance of getting the infection, that’s pretty easy math to do,” says Dr. Martin.

Dr. Martin stresses that even if you become infected after you’ve been vaccinated, the chance of severe illness is greatly reduced.

“Much less likely to wind up in the hospital, much less likely to die from the infection, in other words, it’s still helping you even if you get the infection,” said Dr. Martin.

Dr. Martin estimates about 15% of the population has zero interest in getting vaccinated against COVID no matter what. It’s why he says it’s so important for those who’ve been on the fence about it questioning vaccine safety to join Pennsylvania’s 65% of adults who are already fully vaccinated and finally get the shot in pursuit of herd immunity.

“I hope so and I think so, too. And I think it helps that we’re seeing also a lot of businesses and schools and areas of the government that are also mandating the vaccine,” says Dr.Martin.

Vaccine hesitancy has always been an issue since shots became available to the general public, but now the question is will they continue to be an obstacle to achieving herd immunity?

The FDA is expected to act on Moderna’s submission for full approval in the coming weeks, and for Johnson & Johnson in the coming months.

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