• November 27, 2021

After FDA approval of vaccine, Biden urges US to get vaccinated

The battle against COVID-19 passed a regulatory milestone on Monday when the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine, a decision that could jump-start President Biden’s effort to control the pandemic.

Public health experts hope that full approval will persuade more Americans to get vaccinated, strengthening protection against the coronavirus at a time when hospitals are full of unvaccinated patients who have contracted the most contagious Delta variant. A recent founding of the Kaiser family poll found that 31% of unvaccinated Americans said they would be more likely to receive a fully FDA-approved vaccine.

Calling the FDA announcement “an important moment in our fight against the pandemic,” Biden directed his message from the White House to vaccine doubters.

“The moment you’ve been waiting for is here,” he said. “It’s time for you to go and get the vaccine and get it today,” he added, “there is no time to lose.”

“As I said before, this is an unvaccinated pandemic,” Biden continued. “It is a preventable tragedy. People are dying and will die if they don’t have to. So please, please, if you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so now. “

Businesses, schools, and universities could use the ad as justification to implement their own requirements for vaccinating employees, students, and customers. The Pentagon was quick to say it would make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for troops. Biden, in his comments, urged private companies and state and local leaders to “step up” and impose stricter vaccination requirements on employees.

Any progress in the vaccination campaign would save lives and also limit the political fallout Biden has experienced as the country faces another wave of hospitalizations and deaths. Biden’s approval rating on the coronavirus has dropped from 69% in April to 53% this month, according to NBC News. poll released on Sunday.

Despite the mounting controversy over the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Americans still view the coronavirus as the most important problem facing the country. They’re also more pessimistic: 42% said the worst is yet to come, up from 19% in April, according to the NBC News poll.

Biden’s political challenge is not limited to the Republican-run areas with the lowest vaccination rates and the highest number of cases. There is also frustration that vaccinated people are required to wear masks again in some indoor situations, with a return to pandemic fears and restrictions that many hoped they had left behind after doing their part by getting vaccinated.

“The rise of COVID is like a big wet blanket that is thrown over the country when people are ready to escape,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster.

The country averages 738 deaths per day, with more than 1,000 in some days, a dramatic increase from an average of 189 daily deaths in early July, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although Americans may be frustrated with the country’s relapse, they broadly support Biden’s prescribed public health measures, with 72% backing mask mandates and 61% backing vaccine requirements, according to a USA Today poll from the end. of week.

Biden, who seeks to put the current peak in a more favorable context, noted that the death rate is 70% lower than a year ago, which he attributed to his administration’s efforts. More than 170 million people in the US fully vaccinated, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden’s poll drop could be temporary if more Americans get vaccinated and the recent spike in cases and hospitalizations slows in the coming months, long before the 2022 midterm elections.

“Anyway, there is already a headwind against the Democrats in the middle of the term,” Belcher said. “If COVID is still raging, that headwind is a hurricane, even if it’s not Biden’s fault. In the end, he is still the president, and when there are thousands of people dying and getting sick from this, the ball will end with Biden. “

Earlier this summer, when the Delta variant initially began to increase the number of cases, particularly in southern Republican-led states, several prominent Republican Party officials began making more vigorous calls for people to get vaccinated. The messaging change reflected a growing awareness of the worsening public health crisis and its possible effect on the red states, as well as a calculation that continuing the politicization of public health measures by former President Trump could turn out to be a political responsibility, although many Republican state leaders still refuse masked mandates.

A Democratic senator, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive political strategies, said in an interview that Republicans may be “trapped” by their response to COVID-19.

And after more than a year of highly politicized messages about the pandemic, the Republican grassroots may not be willing to change their deep-seated opposition to vaccines just because some prominent Republicans are now asking them to do so. During Trump’s rally in Alabama over the weekend, the former president appeared to receive boos from his supporters after he urged them to get vaccinated.

But there are signs that vaccine requirements or Delta variant fears are driving more Americans to get vaccinated. At the end of last week, the number of doses administered surpassed one million in three days in a row. Since mid-July, the number of Americans receiving their first dose of vaccine has increased by 70%, a White House official said. And the southern states with the highest number of cases have seen their vaccination numbers rise faster, the official said.

If that trend can be sustained, it could go a long way toward easing the anxieties of college-educated suburban women and minority voters who enabled Biden to win over Trump in 2020 and could determine the fate of Democrats at the polls next year. .

Pfizer’s vaccine, as well as other COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have been widely available for months under what is known as an emergency use authorization, an expedited research process that also requires clinical trials. More than 200 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered, and side effects are rare and generally mild.

The formal approval comes after regulators studied more extensive data on the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine, providing another level of assurance and allowing the vaccine to remain available after the public health emergency caused by the vaccine is over. coronavirus. Pfizer’s product was 91% effective in preventing COVID-19, according to the FDA announcement.

Moderna started the application process for full regulatory approval for your vaccine per month after Pfizer; Johnson & Johnson has yet to start.

“While millions of people have already received COVID-19 vaccines safely, we recognize that for some, FDA approval of a vaccine now can instill additional confidence to get vaccinated,” said Janet Woodcock, acting director of the agency. , it’s a statement. “Today’s milestone brings us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the United States.”

Administration officials believe this could lead to more vaccine requirements, and several state and local governments announced new mandates Monday, particularly for educators, joining California with its previous directives.

“There are universities and companies that have been considering implementing vaccine requirements to create a safer workplace or learning environment,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told “Fox News Sunday” the day before the FDA announcement.

Amesh Adalja, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety, said he hopes full approval will undermine some of the vaccine misinformation that has been circulating.

“Removing one of the talking points from the anti-vaccine movement is really important,” he said. “The fewer lies they can share, the better.”

Times staff writer Melissa Healy contributed to this report.

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