Hours after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, President Joe Biden made an urgent request for private businesses to begin requiring workers to get vaccinated.
Full FDA approval for the vaccine came on Monday. The agency had already given it emergency use authorization, which meant that it was deemed safe and was approved for use during the emergency declaration that was made for the pandemic.
Prior to the announcement from the agency, experts believed that FDA approval could lead to such requirements from businesses for their employees, as well as end some of the skepticism among those who have so far refused to get vaccinated. Some universities and businesses had already implemented rules about vaccine requirements for workers prior to Biden’s request on Monday.
Even though he had made similar requests before, Biden stepped up his appeal to businesses across the country to do their part in promoting vaccinations against COVID now that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been granted full approval status.
“If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that — require it,” Biden said at the White House. “Do what I did last month and require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements.”
Biden called the full FDA approval of the vaccine “another good reason to get vaccinated,” and noted that “vaccination requirements have been around for decades” for people in many professions, including the healthcare industry, and also for students.
A majority of Americans have already received their vaccinations, with 61 percent of the nation’s population having received at least one dose while 52 percent overall are fully vaccinated. Among those 18 years and older, 73 percent have received at least one dose while 63 percent are fully vaccinated.
Vaccinations appear to be an effective, though not guaranteed, way of preventing infection with COVID-19. The more contagious Delta variant of the virus has made so-called “breakthrough” cases (where a fully vaccinated person can still become infected) more commonplace, but evidence suggests that such cases are significantly less likely to occur among the vaccinated.
Recent health data from states also seem to suggest that vaccinations can reduce the spread of coronavirus. Six of the 10 states with the highest rates of coronavirus infections per 100,000 residents are also among the top 10 states with the lowest per capita vaccination rates among their residents. Conversely, seven of the 10 states with the lowest COVID rates in the U.S. are among the top 10 states with the highest vaccination rates.