What full FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine means for Mississippi

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 8:30 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There are currently 35% of Mississippians fully vaccinated.

But the May vaccine confidence survey released by the Department of Health pointed to four major concerns of Mississippians. One of them was full FDA approval.

Now, that concern has been addressed with the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 16 and up.

The president of the Mississippi State Medical Association helped break down what it really means to go from Emergency Use Authorization to full approval.

“What they did under the emergency use youth authorization, use authorization, was that they said, ‘Okay, we know that it’s safe,’” explained MSMA President Dr. Geri Weiland. “We’ve tested it through this, this, this, this and this step, we have some final things to look at.

“But we feel it’s safe enough to roll out to the community because this is a extreme situation. What they’re saying today is, we have completed the kind of review that we always do. And we feel that this vaccine is as safe as any other vaccine that we have approved.”

Dr. Geri Weiland worries that some folks have already made up their mind, but:

“I’m optimistic,” she said. “You know, I think one of the problems is nobody wants to be told what to do. But Mississippians help each other. We need help.”

It may also open the door to more vaccine mandates. But Mississippi College Law professor Matt Steffey makes this note about folks who may have questioned the legal ability to do so.

“I think it was a thin argument before, but that barrier is eliminated,” added Steffey.

Steffey points to the companies and colleges that have already pulled the trigger, saying he believes they were within their legal rights. Still:

“Think it is the job of a board of trustees to look for risks and safeguard, the well-being of a company or organization,” commented Steffey. “And I think they often err on the side of caution. And I think some have been waiting. But others didn’t. And I don’t think anybody had, absent some peculiar feature of law, some corner of the country of which I am unaware, an employer could have mandated the vaccine already. Now they are on unambiguously solid legal grounds to do so.”

Although the FDA approval was only for 16 years and up, the Emergency Use Authorization still allows for vaccination of 12-15 year olds using Pfizer.

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