NY health officials optimistic FDA approval will sway more COVID vaccinations


NEW YORK — Health officials around New York said they’re optimistic the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine will sway more hesitant people to get protected against COVID-19.

Prior to Monday, the vaccine had been approved for emergency use authorization.

Despite the severity of the coronavirus, Rony Denis said he feared getting the vaccine.

“There was some kind of fear as to what it would do in the long term, such as side effects, so people like myself were afraid,” Denis, a Northwell Health staff member, said.

However, his worries went away when he found out the Pfizer vaccine was FDA approved.

On Monday, the Pfizer vaccine for people ages 16 and older met the FDA’s highest standard for safety and effectiveness. It was the fastest vaccine approval in FDA history.

Lenox Hill Hospital family physician Dr. Eric Ascher said many of his patients have been waiting for the FDA approval to get the vaccine. He said the vaccine is the safest and strongest way to prevent contracting the virus.

“While we already knew the vaccine was safe and a ton of research went into the vaccine development, the public now can have that additional confidence knowing it’s been checked vigorously,” said Ascher.

President Joe Biden said employers should utilize the approval and mandate vaccinations, as the delta variant surges nationwide.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also supports vaccine mandates. He’s already requiring the vaccine for the city’s public school teachers and other Department of Education employees — approximately 148,000 people.

As of Tuesday, the city has administered 10.5 million doses of the vaccine. The mayor expects that number to increase, as more people receive the Pfizer shot.

But some are still weary about the vaccine.

“The forcing of it is actually making me more hesitant. I don’t think we should be mandated. I feel we should have our own freedom of choice,” said Bronx resident Jesiel Vazquez. “The FDA has approved many things that are banned in other countries that I don’t feel are safe here.”

The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are still available under emergency use, as are all the vaccines for 12-to-15-year-olds as well as the booster shots.

Federal regulators are still reviewing Moderna’s application for full FDA approval, while Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied.

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