Why full FDA approval is 'probably the last big opportunity' to refresh vaccine messaging

Healthcare marketers and government officials must refocus their vaccine messaging once the FDA grants full approval to COVID-19 vaccines, Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman, PhD, wrote in an Aug. 13 column.

"It’s the next and probably the last big opportunity to sharpen and drive home a clear message that the COVID vaccines are safe and effective," Dr. Altman wrote.

Thirty-one percent of unvaccinated Americans say they would be more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if the vaccine was being administered under full FDA approval instead of an emergency use authorization, according to KFF's Vaccine Monitor surveys. To many, emergency use authorization implies the vaccine is experimental and their safety may be at risk if they receive the shot.

Full FDA approval also offers an opportunity to clear up Americans' misunderstandings, as more than half of unvaccinated Americans are unsure of COVID-19 vaccines' FDA approval status.

"If FDA approval is left to be interpreted by the public through the countless channels of communication and misinformation people use to digest vaccine information, the effect of the decision will be much more modest or even muddled," Dr. Altman wrote.

The FDA decision will also empower employers and governments to be more stringent about vaccine mandates, as full approval provides more of a justification for such requirements.

Pfizer applied for its COVID-19 vaccine's full FDA approval in May. Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House chief medical adviser, said the FDA could grant full approval to the vaccine by the end of August.


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