FDA grants Pfizer vaccine full approval, local health officials hope it convinces people to get their shot

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FILE – In this July 22, 2021, file photo, health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. U.S. health officials Wednesday, Aug. 18, recommended all Americans get COVID-19 booster shots to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant and evidence that the vaccines’ effectiveness is falling. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KGPE) – The FDA Monday morning granted Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine full approval for those 16 years of age and older. For those 12 to 15, the vaccine is still under emergency use authorization.

The Pfizer vaccine is the first COVID-19 vaccine to go beyond emergency use status, and health officials are hoping it convinces more people to get their shot.

“I think the biggest impact it’s gonna make, it’s gonna address some of the vaccine hesitancy out there,” said Joe Prado, the interim assistant public health director at Fresno County’s Department of Public Health. “That is part of what we have been hearing from our community members. They would wait until FDA approval, and now it’s here.”

The full approval comes as the U.S. struggles to grapple with the highly contagious delta variant.

“Those who have been waiting for full approval should go get the shot now,” President Joe Biden said Monday.

In the Central Valley, case rates and COVID-19-related hospitalizations are still rising at an alarming rate.

“Our hospital is full, and we’re monitoring that very closely,” Madera County Public Health Director Sara Bosse said referring to Madera Community Hospital.

The Valley also continues to face low vaccination rates.

Per the latest county data, 61% of Fresno County’s 12 years and older population is vaccinated with at least one dose.

Bosse said in Madera County, about 45% of its 12 years and older population is fully vaccinated.

“I have no doubt that our low vaccination rate is playing a part in the current case rates that we’re seeing,” Bosse said. “We’re really hopeful that this announcement of full FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine, which is proven very, very effective, will be kind of an encouragement for people who have been waiting to kind of see and have further proof that the vaccination is in fact safe and effective.”

Prado said they have a lot of Pfizer vaccines available in the county and recommended people go to myturn.ca.gov to make an appointment.

Biden on Monday called on private companies to require vaccination.

“If you’re a business leader, a non-profit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do it. Require it,” Biden said.

The FDA is still reviewing Moderna’s application for full approval and Johnson and Johnson is expected to apply for full approval soon.

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