MAGIC VALLEY — Eight months after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the first emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine, they've now fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 years and older.
Monday's approval makes the Pfizer vaccine the first of three vaccines available in the U.S. to be fully approved by the FDA.
“Now we have reached that point where the FDA has had an opportunity to get through that paperwork, get through that red tape, and say these vaccines are safe and effective," Brianna Bodily with the South Central Public Health District (SCPHD) said.
The health district says although the approval may not change things for them, it may have an impact on the general public.
“Some people have been waiting for that official stamp of approval to let go of some of those fears. That is crucial right now as we see cases increase dramatically, and we are battling a variant that is extremely infectious and has a much higher viral load," Bodily said.
SCPHD officials say it could be several months before we see the FDA approve the vaccine for those 12 and older.
“That doesn’t mean that the health district doesn’t find 12 and older to be safe and know that that vaccine is effective for that age group. It just means they are looking at that same paperwork, red-tape delays that they did for the older group," Bodily said.
SCPHD says it can take up to several years before a vaccine gets the final FDA approval. The Pfizer vaccine was approved much quicker because of the number of people willing to volunteer to help during the process.
“There are a lot of things that can play in that. Number one: they need a lot of volunteers to go through the trials, and that can take so long to get enough people to say yes. With COVID-19, we didn’t have that problem. We had hundreds of thousands of people who were not only willing but excited to be part of the effort to make these vaccines," Bodily said.
SCPHD says the biggest impact this approval has is on those who were hesitant to get the vaccine. They're hopeful the approval will help increase the vaccine rates.
“We have, of course, strong confidence in vaccines in general. This is what we do. We’ve seen vaccines work to prevent the spread of disease and protect lives for decades. So we strongly believe in them. We’ve seen the research. We know that these vaccines, especially Pfizer, of course, are extremely effective and safe," Bodily said.
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