President Biden made his clearest plea yet to employers to require the COVID-19 vaccine for their employees, on the day that the Food and Drug Administration announced its full approval for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine to be given to Americans as young as 16. It’s the first COVID vaccine to receive full FDA approval, and health officials hope the new status will encourage more people to get the vaccine.
“If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do it, require it. Do what I did last month, require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements,” Mr. Biden said Monday in remarks after the FDA designation.
The federal government is requiring employees to get the shot or be tested regularly. Many companies are doing the same. Thecould set into motion a new wave of vaccine requirements among employers and universities as cases and deaths rise to the highest levels in months. The FDA had initially authorized the Pfizer vaccine on an emergency use basis.
“So let me say this loudly and clearly: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot until it has full and final approval of the FDA, it has now happened. The moment you’ve been waiting for is here,” the president said.
The president called the FDA’s approval the “gold standard,” and emphasized that vaccines are free, safe, easy, effective and convenient. He also stressed that the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are taking place among the unvaccinated.
“There is no time to waste,” Mr. Biden said, warning against the Delta variant and insisting this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
The vaccine has yet to be approved for emergency use in children younger than 12. Since that’s the case, the president said best way for children to remain safe at school is for kids to wear masks.
“While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S,” said acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.
The other two vaccines authorized for emergency use are still working on submissions for full approval. Moderna said it plans to finish its application this month, and Johnson & Johnson, which is from trials of two-dose regimens, also plans to file for full approval this year.