How will Pfizer's FDA approval affect vaccine hesitancy? 4 experts weigh in

With Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine gaining full approval, four experts weigh in on how it will affect vaccine hesitancy as nationwide vaccination rates plateau, according to an Aug. 24 ABC 7 report.

To obtain approval, the FDA analyzed six months of Pfizer's safety data. More than 200 million vaccine doses were administered in the U.S. alone under the FDA's emergency use authorization. Many Americans skeptical of getting vaccinated have said that the emergency use authorization was concerning.  

"That barrier is now removed," said George Rutherford, MD, professor of epidemiology at the University of California-San Francisco. "These vaccines have been better studied than any vaccines that I have ever seen. The amount of data, amount of scrutiny has been intense, and we know what we are going to know. I don't think there is a lot for us to know except maybe the longer-term issues about immunity truly waning or not."

Even though the vaccine's FDA approval is a step toward boosting vaccination rates, it's not the only reason many Americans are holding back.

Minority populations, such as Black and Latino populations, have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States.

"The FDA approval is not their main concern or the reason why they are not taking the vaccine," said Jonathan Bulter, executive director of African American Faith Coalition. "They are concerned with the mistrust in government, and there is also a lot of misinformation on social media that they are overwhelmed by." 

Susana Rojas, who works with The Latino Task Force to host information sessions targeting vaccine hesitancy, said,"A small group of it is religious beliefs and some other ones were holding out for the full approval of the vaccine." 

Jason Nagata, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at UCSF, said many young adults nationwide were holding off for safety concerns. He said the FDA's full approval will be a big swaying factor for young Americans, but other things that directly affect their lifestyle may be more effective.

"... Rules and regulations like college's vaccination requirements or requirements to dine indoors or go to clubs or gyms will also sway a significant number of young adults," Dr. Nagata said.

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