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Experts hope Pfizer FDA approval leads to more vaccinations

The FDA fully approved the BioTech-Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 and older Monday. Now, health experts hope it will convince more people to get the shot.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Monday that it has fully approved the BioTech-Pfizer vaccine for people ages 16 and older and health experts in the Triad hope it convinces more people to get the shot. 

"What you're going to see is you're going to see lots of people that now they're like 'Okay, I see it now is FDA approved, I'm gonna come to get the vaccine,'" said Joshua Swift, the public health director for the Forsyth County Health Department. "I think this will help them feel confident in the vaccine that is safe. It's effective, it's been tested."

The vaccine will also now be named Comirnaty. Director of Pharmacy Oncology at Cone Health Andre Harvin says it's mostly about marketing. 

"It's just saying that Pfizer knows that there are going to be other competitors that will also have full FDA approval," said Harvin. "So we expect that Moderna is going to get full FDA approval, the Johnson and Johnson is going to get full FDA approval in time. There are others that are going to be entering the market, not through the emergency use authorization, but through the full FDA approval process. And so they know just to distinguish their product to say, Hey, we were the first to receive the full FDA approval, they're giving it a brand name."

Dr. Katie Passaretti with Atrium Health says she doesn't think the approval will push everyone to get the vaccine but it will make a difference.

"I don't know that it will take care of everyone, in the past couple of months who have told me that they're waiting for full approval," said Passaretti. "I suspect (they) may move on to another reason."

Harvin agrees that it's not going to be the end all be in for vaccine hesitancy, but it will help. 

"If they want to be skeptics or they want to, for whatever reason, be a bad actor and tell you not to get a vaccine, they're always going to manufacture another reason why you shouldn't do it," said Andre Harvin.

The approval could also open the door for more vaccine mandates among private employers. Cone Health, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Novant Health have all announced vaccine mandates for employees.

"Many have publicly stated once it's fully approved by the FDA, we will mandate," said Passaretti. "I fully expect that trend will continue. So we will see an increase in the number of requirements for vaccines as conditions of employment."

Dr. Harvin hopes, moving forward, people can come together, listen to science and help one another. 

"Let's do what's best for our fellow man, and really, let's get back to normal, right? And the best way to do that is to get the vaccine," said Harvin.

You can find a vaccine location here. Cone Health, Novant and Atrium Wake Forest Baptist Health all allow you either choose your vaccine or tell you ahead of time which vaccine is being offered.