UPMC infectious disease specialist and Harrisburg University director react to Pfizer’s FDA approval

Vaccinate PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pfizer’s COVID vaccine now has full FDA approval. It was the first to get emergency use authorization by the FDA in December and is now the first to get full approval.

“We have had approximately nine months of experience with the vaccine, we’ve given it to something like 250 million people and we know that it is very safe and we know it is very effective,” said Dr. John Goldman, infectious disease specialist with UPMC.

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The Pfizer COVID vaccine may have more data to back it up than any other vaccine in history.

“The key difference here is when it received emergency authorization, the data that went into that approval, meaning the data that said this is a safe and effective vaccine was based on large clinical trials which is an incredible data source, what we have now with the full approval is really just a scaled-up version of what we already had,” Erik Hefti, Director of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Harrisburg University, said.

With full FDA approval comes more chances for companies, universities, and local governments to mandate vaccinations.

“With full approval, there’s a lot more leeway they have in actually pursuing mandates if they think they are appropriate,” Hefti said.

The Pentagon was quick to do just that.

“Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, the department is prepared to issue updated guidance to require all service members to be vaccinated,” John Kirby, Pentagon spokesperson, said.

In Pennsylvania, 65% of Pennsylvanians 18 and older are vaccinated. Nationwide, just over half of the population is vaccinated.

“There has been significant hesitancy or concerns with the common statement being I want to wait for more testing to be done,” Tatiana Michura, a family nurse practitioner at Sadler Health Center, said.

Health experts are hoping full approval could push some holdouts to finally roll up their sleeves.

“Our hope is that by the FDA approving the vaccines, that we will in fact encourage people who were hesitant or fearful to in fact get vaccinated,” Michura said.

The Moderna vaccine received emergency use authorization shortly after Pfizer did. Dr. Goldman says he expects Moderna to get full approval soon.

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