HamCo health director: FDA approval of Pfizer vaccine hasn't moved the needles

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Posted at 7:04 PM, Sep 07, 2021

CINCINNATI — It’s been about two weeks since the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first of the available vaccines to receive complete — rather than emergency — approval.

Health and government officials have publicly voiced their hope that the change, which signals one of the highest forms of medical safety endorsement in the United States, would encourage skeptics and holdouts to finally get the shot.

But for many, it hasn’t made a difference.

“It was almost a non-event in terms of, you know, people who have kind of been on the fence or what not and making that decision,” said Hamilton County medical director Dr. Stephen Feagins, who is also a clinical health officer at Mercy Health.

Vaccination numbers have gone up in Ohio since July, but Pfizer’s full approval did not coincide with a significant spike.

However, according to Feagins, it did signal a sea change in an important issue: With the vaccine fully FDA-approved, businesses and schools began to feel comfortable requiring workers, visitors and students to be vaccinated.

For people who continue to resist out of skepticism, Feagins said, it’s hard to counter the amount of misinformation on social media with medical science. He urged holdouts to get their news about the vaccines straight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and avoid rabbit holes on social media.

“We know more about the side effects of these particular vaccines than we’ve ever known of any vaccine or even medication in history,” he said. “It’s hard to make good decisions with bad information. Social media is just the bane of this particular disease.”