The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older. This is the first coronavirus vaccine fully approved by the FDA, and is expected to open the door to more vaccine mandates.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in the United States since mid-December for people age 16 and older. In May, the authorization was extended to those 12 and older.
Out of more than 170 million people in the United States fully vaccinated against COVID-19, more than 92 million have received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Officials discussed this weekend how to prepare for the rollout once the FDA grants full approval, given it will be a major messaging opportunity to encourage vaccination.
Full approval could more vaccine mandates and perhaps increase uptake by some people who are vaccine hesitant. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN on Sunday that approval could encourage more people to get vaccinated, and more mandates.
“For businesses and universities that have been thinking about putting vaccine requirements in place in order to create safer spaces for people to work and learn, I think that this move from the FDA, when it comes, will actually help them to move forward with those kinds of plans,” Murthy told CNN.
Murthy also noted “a small number of people” have been waiting for full approval before getting their shot and believes “this may tip them over toward getting vaccinated.”