The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) official blessing of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccine technically removes one more hurdle for those who have been hesitant to take the coronavirus shot.
How much of a difference this will make remains to be seen.
The FDA announced its formal approval Monday after having granted emergency authorization last December to face the brunt of the pandemic. Official approvals for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still pending.
While many people have gotten vaccinated — as of Sunday, 73% of U.S. adults have had at least one dose of one of the three vaccines — some have avoided it for various reasons and with variable intensities. One reason cited by some of the unvaccinated has been that the FDA has not moved beyond its emergency declaration, and these people said they were waiting for an official nod. A poll released in June by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated that 31% of unvaccinated Americans said they’d be more likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine once one receives full FDA approval, according to NPR.
With the FDA’s endorsement of the Pfizer vaccine — it’s the most widely used vaccine among Americans — a new surge in vaccinations may take place.
This comes at a crucial time in the pandemic. Cases across the nation are rising largely because of the Delta variant, and areas of the country where vaccinations have lagged are taking the biggest hits.
This may also include South Dakota, which has had a relatively decent vaccination response. According to Newsweek, this state leads the country with a 312% increase in new infections the past 14 days.
Also, a look at the Department of Health’s community spread map for South Dakota offers a view that’s rather different from last year. For much of 2020, the sparsely populated counties in the central and western parts of the state saw mostly light cases, and these are areas where people are likely more resistant to getting vaccinated. But now, those areas are being harder hit by COVID.
The regional trend in all this is not promising. It was noted in Monday night’s Yankton City Commission meeting by Commissioner Nathan Johnson that hospitals in Omaha and Sioux City were full last weekend while Sioux Falls facilities were filling up. That is a wave that will likely impact other, smaller facilities sooner or later. On Tuesday, Yankton County recorded its first double-digit increase in COVID cases since last spring, as well as two new hospitalizations.
Eventually, this conversation may lead to the specter of vaccine mandates, either from a government level, a scholastic level or a business level. This will likely be an explosive issue wherever and however it arises.
At this point, there is little you can tell the unvaccinated that they haven’t heard already, but the FDA endorsement adds new ammunition to this terribly important and urgent matter.