How FDA’s Vaccine Approval Can Help Us End COVID-19

Yesterday’s announcement of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the first COVID-19 vaccination for individuals 16 years of age or older is an important step in our country’s response to the pandemic.

As recently as June, three in ten unvaccinated adults reported they would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use received full approval from the FDA. I am hopeful that those individuals who have been unsure about getting vaccinated will now see the benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations as far greater than any outstanding concerns.

Across the country, communities are feeling the immense pain and suffering COVID-19 can cause. Case counts and hospitalizations are rising to new highs, especially the South. The Delta variant continues to prove a new and dangerous challenge, and children are affected in greater numbers now than at any time previously. Healthcare workers are taking to social media and local news outlets to express the mental and physical strain of many months spent treating COVID-19 patients and medical systems stretched to their breaking points. Where I live in Georgia, one county’s local health officer recently requested a mobile morgue be set up to accommodate the increase in COVID-19 related deaths. We are at critical point in the pandemic.

As a physician and public health professional, I implore everyone to get vaccinated, and I recommend anyone who has questions about a COVID-19 vaccination speak with their doctor, pharmacist or another trusted medical professional about the available vaccines.

Medical experts and doctors across the country agree that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The FDA's approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine further reinforces that the vaccine meets the highest standards for safety, effectiveness and quality, as the agency’s approval process includes a review of preclinical and clinical data, the manufacturing process, vaccine testing results, and the sites where the vaccine is made.

I know that the decision to get vaccinated is a personal one and influenced by many factors. Here’s what we know about the COVID-19 vaccines:

  • The vaccines are highly effective in preventing illness -- even more effective than the annual flu vaccine.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you from getting sick.
  • The quickest way for life to return to normal is for most people to get vaccinated.
  • Nearly all doctors who have been offered the vaccine have taken it. Millions of people have been vaccinated safely.
  • Tens of thousands of people participated in the phase 3 trials for the three authorized vaccines. After being fully vaccinated, no trial participants were hospitalized or died from COVID-19.

If you are not already vaccinated, please take action today to keep yourself, your family, your community and those most vulnerable safe from COVID-19. If you’ve already received your vaccination, I hope you will share your experience with others and encourage them to get the information they need to feel comfortable getting vaccinated.

This is a time for our country to come together. After months quarantining, testing and masking, vaccinations provide a clear path to ending the pandemic. I hope that each of us will work together to reach our collective goal to overcoming COVID-19.

Dr. Judy Monroe
Judy Monroe, MD, is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.