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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine can provide a big boost to vaccination efforts or a more modest one — depending on how it is handled when the decision comes down.

Between the lines: If FDA approval is left to be interpreted by the public through the countless channels of communication and misinformation people use to digest vaccine information, the effect of the decision will be much more modest or even muddled.

  • If, on the other hand, the president and federal health officials, state and local officials, and public health experts use it as an opportunity to refresh the vaccine message, it could provide a big boost to vaccination efforts.

By the numbers: Three in ten of the unvaccinated (31%) report in our KFF Vaccine Monitor surveys that they would be more likely to get vaccinated if the FDA moved vaccines from emergency use to full authorization.

  • 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 get vaccinated.
  • More than half of the unvaccinated are also unsure what the status of FDA authorization is.
  • A lack of FDA authorization has allowed the idea that the vaccines are unsafe or ineffective to fester.

FDA authorization offers an opportunity to aggressively address safety and efficacy concerns and clear up substantial public confusion.

  • Authorization could provide justification and cover for employers, including hospitals, that have previously faced blowback from some employees to move ahead with mandates.
  • It could also boost vaccinations by emboldening more local governments — such as what we've seen in states like California— to move ahead with passports and mandates.

Bottom line: It’s the next — and probably the last — big opportunity to sharpen and drive home a clear message that the COVID vaccines are safe and effective.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Biden to get booster shot on camera — Pfizer vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The booster vaccine discussion is far from over.
  2. Health: Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years — U.S. death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities — Chicago has highest case rates in city worker neighborhoods.
  3. Politics: Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home — Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive — Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers.
  4. Education: D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option — More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Sep 20, 2021 - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive COVID vaccine without testing option

Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Monday that all teachers, school personnel and early child care workers must get vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1 with no option to opt out with weekly testing.

Why it matters: A majority of the D.C. city council urged Bowser to eliminate the weekly testing option for public school teachers and day care professionals, WashPost noted. Bowser's new mandate extended the vaccine requirement without a testing option to all D.C. public schools, charter schools, private schools and child care facilities.