Surgeon general: Vaccine mandates coming with FDA approval of Pfizer shot

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christina Essigmann, left, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, administers the COVID-19 vaccination to Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Isaac Rodriguez in the ship’s medical ward in Rota, Spain, April 24, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Travis Baley)

More vaccine mandates are coming from businesses and universities in the wake of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

He said Sunday to expect two major developments.

One is more people “coming forward, those who were perhaps on the fence about getting vaccinated, and this may tip them toward doing so.”

“Second, I think you’ll see more universities and workplaces that were considering putting in requirements for vaccines to create safer places to learn and work, you’ll see more of them likely moving forward,” Murthy said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

When President Biden’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was asked Aug. 8 about full approval of the vaccines, he said the nation will “see the empowerment of local enterprises, giving mandates that could be colleges, universities, places of business, a whole variety and I strongly support that.”

“The time has come. … We’ve got to go the extra step to get people vaccinated,” he said.

The surgeon general said it’s “reasonable” for school districts to require teachers and staff to get vaccinated.

Murthy acknowledged that the effectiveness of the vaccines may not hold up and will require booster shots. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to ask the FDA to approve a third dose. Last week, President Biden said his administration is preparing to offer booster shots to all eligible Americans beginning the week of Sept. 20.

On Monday, the Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine became the first in the U.S. to win FDA approval. The mRNA vaccine, like the Modern and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, was administered under emergency use authorization granted by the FDA in December. It will be marketed under the name Comirnaty.

As data collection continues, the vaccine is still under emergency use authorization for children 12 to 15.

CNBC reported federal health officials had been “under mounting pressure from the scientific community and advocacy groups to fully approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine ever since the drugmakers submitted their application to the agency in early May.”

FDA scientists, after evaluating hundreds of thousands of pages of data from 40,000 trial participants, found the Pfizer vaccine to be 91% effective in preventing COVID-19.

CNBC said: “Although more than 60% of the total U.S. population has had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, many Americans say they are still hesitant about getting vaccinated, even as the highly contagious delta variant spreads.”

However, earlier this month, a study by the Mayo Clinic found the Pfizer vaccine was only 42% effective against infection in July in the clinic’s home state of Minnesota, when the delta variant became dominant.

“If that’s not a wakeup call, I don’t know what is,” a senior Biden official told Axios.

Companies, the Pentagon and states

Walt Disney and Walmart are among the major companies that have told some or all of their employees that they must get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall.

The Pentagon will require vaccinations for service members no later than Sept. 15, or sooner if the FDA grants full approval earlier.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will require nearly every worker, volunteer and contractor within its vast health care system to be vaccinated, the New York Times reported.

More than 50 health-care professional societies and organizations in the United States have urged all health-care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Last week, Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown announced all health care workers in the state must be vaccinated and there will no longer be a testing alternative.

Washington state Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee had imposed the same vaccine mandate on health-care workers in his state.

NYC school teachers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio noted the FDA approval when he announced Monday that the city will require all of its 148,000 public school teachers and staff to be vaccinated.

The deadline to get the first dose is Sept. 27, two weeks after the school year begins. There are no exemptions for those who submit regular coronavirus test results. No mention was made of religious or medical exemptions.

De Blasio, calling the FDA approval a “game-changing moment,” said the city would begin negotiating with the unions representing city teachers and staff regarding the implementation of the mandate.

The Daily Caller reported the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, said that while “the city is asserting its legal authority to establish this mandate, there are many implementation details, including provisions for medical exceptions, that by law must be negotiated with the [United Federation of Teachers (UFT)] and other unions, and if necessary, resolved by arbitration.”

The the president of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, Mark Cannizzaro, said his union “will work to protect our members’ rights and interests at the bargaining table.”

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