On Monday, Aug. 23, the United States Food and Drug Administration granted full authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was previously being administered under an emergency authorization. Following the approval, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock released a statement, noting that “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.”
At a press conference later that day, President Joe Biden hailed the approval and urged businesses to “step up vaccination requirements to reach millions more people. If you’re a business leader, a non-profit leader, a state or labor leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that. . . . Require employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements.”
Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla is hopeful FDA’s authorization will encourage the unvaccinated to get the shot. “Vaccination remains the best tool we have to help protect lives,” Bourla noted in a report by NBC News. The same report also noted a recent poll showed 3 in 10 unvaccinated Americans cited lack of full FDA approval as a reason for not getting vaccinated.
Nationally, vaccination rates have slowly increased over the past month since bottoming out in mid-July. With the highly contagious delta variant spreading, daily vaccination uptake is nearly triple what it was a month ago – from roughly 336k doses per day to more than a million doses daily across the country over the past several days. In Pennsylvania, while case counts and hospitalizations continue to increase, vaccine uptake has seen a slight increase as well, with the number of Pennsylvanians receiving their first dose each day roughly twice the rate that was recorded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health a month ago.
Full authorizations for the other vaccines being administered, including Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are expected later this fall. The PA Chamber continues to oppose legislation that would prohibit employers from mandating vaccines, such as HB 262 which awaits a floor vote in the House. For more information for employers, visit the PA Chamber’s Bringing PA Back COVID-19 Vaccination resource page or the US Chamber’s Vaccine Resource Center.