Will Pfizer’s FDA approval be a game-changer?

Current COVID-19 vaccination site.
Photo credit: Tracy Noze

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week approved the first COVID-19 vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. With one vaccine finally approved, there are questions on what the future will look like.

FDA officials call the full approval of the vaccine a “key achievement for public health.” Approval means the two-dose vaccine is safe and effective to be consumed by the public.

According to the FDA, approval means “the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.”

Before the announcement, the rate of U.S. first doses stayed the same, but the country saw a 17% increase in Americans getting their first vaccine dose.

As of Aug. 31 in Florida, 25 million vaccine doses have been given and 11.4 million people are fully vaccinated, with 53.2% of the population are fully vaccinated.

As of Aug. 31, the Tallahassee Democrat’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker indicates in Leon County 135,289 have been fully vaccinated, meaning 46.96% of the population are fully vaccinated.

The FDA vaccine approval has a significant impact on the FAMU community.

Sierra Lowrey, a junior at FAMU, was hesitant before getting the vaccine. However, she shared that doing her research and understanding what her peers were talking about contributed to her vaccination decision.

“I did know doing that (getting vaccinated) was a great decision,” Lowrey said. “This was because of what healthcare professionals were saying and doing my own and seeing the pros and cons.”

Lowrey said when hearing the news the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, it made a difference.

“I felt comfortable. I felt at ease knowing there were three different vaccines, and the one I got was approved,” Lowrey said.

At noon on Wednesday. university leaders hosted the first installment of a weekly Zoom session to answer questions the FAMU community may have about COVID-19, specifically about university operations and vaccinations.

During the session, FAMU Director of Student Health Services Tanya Tatum provided updates on the FAMU COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in the number of individuals getting vaccinated… it’s not a huge increase — when we’re testing about 2,600 or 3,600 people a day,” Tatum said. “Our vaccination numbers have gone (from) 46 to 106, so I’m grateful for that increase.”

The university has communicated with students and parents, met with representatives of student organizations, sports teams, and the band to share the importance of getting vaccinated and encouraging their peers.

Tatum continued to share her concerns that not enough of the FAMU community is vaccinated.

“I’m concerned not enough of us are vaccinated,” Tatum said. “It’s hard to guess how many are vaccinated.”

FAMU cannot mandate vaccines, but individuals are encouraged to work with their peers to try and encourage people to get vaccinated.

With one vaccine gaining full FDA approval, it is likely more vaccine requirements will be put in place.

To bring an end to the pandemic, many worldwide need to be immune to the virus. Vaccine hesitancy has gone down, but there is still work to be done to convince millions of Americans to get the shot.

As for the FAMU community, with most courses being entirely in-person, football season approaching, and an upcoming homecoming, university officials and vaccinated students urge the greater FAMU community to wear face masks and get vaccinated.

For more information on FAMU COVID-19 updates, visit http://famu.edu/index.cfm?coronavirus.