Despite hopes that full approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine would convince large numbers of vaccine-hesitant Americans, a federal government analysis provided to CNN suggests approval was not a silver bullet.
After the US Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer’s shot in August, Pfizer vaccination rates did increase, but the uptake was modest and relatively short-lived.
Siegel on full validation
“There weren’t suddenly lines around the block,” said Becca Siegel, senior adviser to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ public education campaign.
The data backs up what a recent poll found: Full validation might matter to some unvaccinated Americans.
“For truly undecided people, this is a complex decision”, Siegel said.
On August 23, the day the FDA issued full approval to Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, President Joe Biden pleaded with unvaccinated Americans.
“If you are one of the millions of Americans who said they will not get the shot until it has full and final approval of the FDA, it has now happened. It’s time for you to go get your vaccination, and get it today — today,” Biden said.
Biden had good reason for optimism.
Kaiser’s poll results
According to a poll conducted in June by the Kaiser Family Foundation, about half of people who were taking a “wait and see” approach to vaccination said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if the FDA fully approved one of the Covid-19 vaccines.
“Many unvaccinated people worry that the vaccines are experimental and fears about the safety of the vaccine are a major reason some groups are hesitant to vaccinated,” Drew Altman, Kaiser’s president, and CEO wrote in August.
It turned out the FDA’s full approval did help to change some minds, but the effect was not dramatic.
From August 23 to September 3, the seven-day average of the administration of Pfizer doses increased by 16%, from 575,000 per day to 668,000 per day, according to the HHS analysis.
But the increase in Pfizer’s vaccine following approval is especially notable because, in the weeks before full approval, Moderna was seeing larger increases than Pfizer, according to an analysis done for CNN by the Computational Epidemiology Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, which powers the Vaccines.gov website.
After September 4, the seven-day averages for both vaccines started to decline
Kaiser’s September poll
A September poll might help explain why full licensure didn’t have more of an effect.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted last month showed that FDA approval played a relatively minor role in vaccine decision-making.
In that survey, only 15% of recently vaccinated people said full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine was a major reason they got the shot, and only 2% said it was the main reason.
The Kaiser poll found that other factors were more likely to be a major reason for getting vaccinated: the increase in cases due to the Delta variant; “It’s not getting easier, and it won’t get easier.”
People aren’t convinced
The fact that nothing so far — not full approval, not overflowing hospitals, not 700,000 dead Americans — has convinced tens of millions of Americans to get vaccinated is reason enough for mandates, some experts say.
“I think we’ve come to recognize that mandates are what we’ve come to generate increases in vaccination,” said John Brownstein, director of the Computational Epidemiology Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.
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Source: CNN Health