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Pfizer becomes first COVID-19 vaccine to gain full FDA approval

The FDA on Monday gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine.
The FDA on Monday gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine.(WTOK)
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 7:44 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - With Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine gaining full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday, a hospital administrator in the 49th state believes the news could spur more Alaskans to become vaccinated.

During a media call Monday morning, Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock expressed hope and optimism in the first COVID-19 vaccine approval.

Here at home, Alaska Native Medical Center Administrator Dr. Bob Onders also expressed great confidence in the FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Onders believes that more Alaskans will choose to receive the vaccine and that a shortage is not expected, although FDA approval of the Moderna vaccine may come in the next three to four months at the earliest.

Onders stressed that the large benefit of vaccinations has been the reduction in Alaska hospitalizations.

“What we really want to do is prevent hospitalizations and prevent deaths and this vaccine has been phenomenal in that case even with the delta variant,” he said.

According to Woodcock, the Pfizer vaccine is 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in people 16 years of age and older. Emergency use authorization of the vaccine remains an option for children ages 12-15. Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, also clarified during the media call that the Pfizer option prevents hospitalization but may not prevent person-to-person transmission of the disease.

The FDA is also warning of an increased risk of myocarditis especially for males under the age of 40 in the first seven days after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and encouraged staying away from “off label” use.

So far in Alaska, close to 54% of all eligible residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

For the most up-to-date Alaska coronavirus information, please visit the state’s coronavirus response hub.

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