What does full Pfizer approval mean in suburbs? More vaccinations, work mandates and TV ads
Federal approval of Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine will likely mean more suburban residents feeling comfortable about getting a shot, more employers mandating inoculations and an influx of television ads, experts expect.
"Nothing's really changed as far as what we know about the vaccine being safe and effective," said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Edward Hospital's medical director of infection control and prevention. "However, this means it's fully licensed, so Pfizer can now market this vaccine to the public.
"I do think there are many people who may be swayed by the fact it is fully licensed," Pinsky said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday the vaccine had received full approval after being allowed under an emergency authorization use since Dec. 11, 2020, for those 16 and older. It will continue to be available under emergency use authorization, for now, for children age 12 to 15.
"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," Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said.
And the drug will be marketed under the name "Comirnaty," the FDA said.
Pfizer and BioNTech -- plus the creator of the name, Brand Institute -- actually announced the Comirnaty name in the U.S. at the end of last year, saying the drug was already being marketed as such in Europe. Now television and other advertising with the name can begin in the U.S.
At an event at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Gov. J.B. Pritzker hailed the news.
"There are people who have been hesitant to get vaccinated because these vaccines were only under emergency authorization," he said. "At this point now, there are reams and reams of research that has been done to prove these vaccines are effective, especially the mRNA vaccines like Pfizer."
Pritzker did not indicate if he would expand vaccination requirements that currently affect only state employees who work at congregate settings, such as veterans' homes.
"I do think there will be private institutions that choose to require vaccinations now they're no longer under emergency authorization," Pritzker said.
Pinsky said he thought many employers were already making vaccinations mandatory based on existing evidence for them.
"I think there may be more employers that feel they are on firmer ground for making it mandatory now it is fully licensed," he said.
Pinsky said one reason people hesitate to get vaccinated is they think the risks of a shot outweigh the risks of contracting the virus.
In speaking with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, "every one of them would have been vaccinated had they known how serious it can be."
Of Edward's COVID-19 patients who are 65 and older, about one in four is vaccinated, Pinsky said. Of those breakthrough cases, he said most are mild and patients were admitted for other reasons that normally wouldn't require hospital admission, such as dehydration, gastrointestinal symptoms, or they are elderly and more prone to falls,
The majority of COVID-19 patients younger than 65 at Edward are unvaccinated. The most common age group of patients admitted with COVID-19 pneumonia and requiring oxygen are in their 40s and 50s, Pinsky said.