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FDA Gives Pfizer Vaccine Full Approval

A resident receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the M&T Bank Stadium this spring. Credit: Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR
A resident receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the M&T Bank Stadium this spring. Credit: Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR

The FDA’s full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Monday could at least slightly increase vaccination rates across Maryland.

Lois Privor-Dumm, the director of adult immunizations at the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center, told WYPR that the decision can persuade a “small percentage” of residents to get vaccinated.

“This is the thing that puts them over the edge,” Privor-Dumm said.

She also said this can be a turning point for employers, who want to implement vaccine mandates, but hesitated to call this a turning point for building confidence.

“I wouldn't think that this is going to convince a lot of people,” she said.

Privor-Dumm, who works with the city’s vaccine education program VALUE Baltimore, is often part of listening sessions with city residents who are not yet vaccinated and say they want “more time” to feel safe.

“But that time may come in years,” she said. “It's not something that is going to come in months, like we might actually hope.”

People do often change their minds, Privor-Dumm said, when they're exposed directly to somebody that has been affected by the disease.

Dr. Tinisha Cheatham, physician-in-chief at Kaiser Permanente’s Baltimore service area, is urging people to take the Delta variant seriously and get vaccinated.

“Trust the science. The FDA has gone through their studies. They have proven it to be safe. We know it's effective,” Cheatham said.

She said that full approval of the Pfizer vaccine is further proof that it works and that there is data to show it.

“It's protecting people from dying from COVID,” she said. “We want people to stay alive and want people to stay healthy.”

Gov. Larry Hogan thanked federal officials in a statement, saying this is something his administration has been pushing for over the past several weeks.

“For people who are still hesitant about getting the vaccine, this is an assurance that it has met the most rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness,” Hogan said.

The governor also added that full approval of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines is “vital to our efforts.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.