The Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to Pfizer-BioTech’s two-dose vaccine on Monday for ages 16 and up, making it the first Covid-19 vaccine to pass this major hurdle for American approval.
The FDA finally approving the vaccine will likely get those who are hesitant to get the shot and may lead to more vaccine mandates as many businesses around the country were waiting for the approval from the FDA before requiring their employees to get the shot.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “While millions of people have already safely received Covid-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”
The news comes as the highly contagious delta variant continues to surge through the country, hitting the unvaccinated communities hard.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla spoke with ABC News on Monday and said full approval should be able to convince more people to get the shots.
“For those people that they were a little bit reluctant because they wanted to see full approval, now they have the full confirmation of one of the most respected agencies in the world, the FDA, that the … vaccine is effective and safe,” he said.
President Joe Biden spoke at the White House on Monday after the FDA’s announcement, calling the move “another key milestone” in the effort to combat the virus.
“The moment you’ve been waiting for is here. It is time for you to get your vaccination,” he said.
With over 180,000 school children being diagnosed with Covid and several Republican-led states barring mask mandates who say they are not needed, Biden urged parents to get their children vaccinated.
“Make sure everyone around your child who can be vaccinated is vaccinated. Make sure your child is masked when you leave home,” he said.
The President also pressed businesses and public leaders to implement vaccine mandates. This comes as there is a growing concern for breakthrough infections in already-vaccinated people. The White House says the likelihood is rare but can be prevented if more people are vaccinated.
Around 170 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against the virus, while 30 million more have gotten at least one shot of the two-dose vaccine.
“I’m calling on more companies in the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach millions of more people,” Biden said. “If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that — require it. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of Covid-19.”
This story has been updated with more information.