Pfizer Vaccine FDA Approval Strikes Huge Blow to Mandate Resistance

The recent full federal approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could come as a huge blow for those resisting mandates and empower businesses and colleges to require vaccinations.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy defended the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine booster policy while appearing on CNN's State of the Union this Sunday, calling the decision by businesses and schools to require a COVID-19 vaccine as an "absolutely reasonable" policy.

"We already know that there are many businesses and universities that have moved toward vaccine requirements, and I think it's a very reasonable thing to do to create a safe environment," he said.

Speaking before the vaccine's approval on Monday, Murthy said a full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine could potentially help businesses and colleges that are considering a vaccine requirement "move forward with those kinds of plans."

"We've given it to hundreds of millions of people," Murthy said. "We've seen that it's doing its job. And that's why we're continuing to recommend that people get vaccinated starting today and... as soon as they can."

The Pfizer-BioNTech was the first COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. to be granted authorization under an EUA on December 11, 2020. The shot continues to be available under emergency use authorization for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third booster dose in immunocompromised people. As of Monday, it is now the first COVID-19 vaccine to be fully approved by health authorities in the U.S.

"The FDA's approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA's rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, 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 Janet Woodcock said in a statement Monday.

"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."

Full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will likely open the door for a host of public and private organizations to introduce vaccine requirements. Health officials are also hoping that full approval could help convince some vaccine-hesitant individuals to receive the shot.

"This may tip them over toward getting vaccinated," Murthy added.

The surgeon general said getting protection from the vaccine is more important than ever due to the Delta variant, which has caused a surge in new COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

"We're faced with the most transmissible variant that we've seen to date, the Delta variant. When we have our kids—essentially, is the point of concern here in our schools—and their health and well-being on the line. We've got to take every step we can," he said.

Many businesses, school districts and colleges have already implemented vaccine mandates across the U.S. New York City, for example, is requiring people to be vaccinated to go to gyms or restaurants. Some states, including Oregon, require employees in schools, including teachers and staff, to be vaccinated.

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine
File photo: The FDA gave full federal approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine on Monday. Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images