Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine received full FDA approval. What does that mean for Oklahomans?

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Monday, President Biden announced the Pfizer vaccine is the first COVID-19 shot to get full FDA approval, but what does that mean?

“The science behind the safety of the vaccine in terms of the individual patient that’s done that has been there,” said Dr. Chansolme with INTEGRIS.

The Head of Infectious Disease for INTEGRIS Oklahoma City says the clinical study process had already shown that the vaccine is effective.

Dr. Chansolme says Monday’s announcement is more about approving the manufacture and distribution of the vaccine, but he says the news could have big effect on vaccination numbers.

“Up to 31 % of people say they didn’t want to get it because it wasn’t FDA approved, so I will be curious to see if we will have that kind of uptake. That would be huge if we did,” said Dr. Chansolme.

The FDA approval could have implications in the workplace for employers.

Dr. John Whyte, WebMD Chief Medical Officer saying, “The full approval called ‘biological licensing application’ now allows them the ability to require vaccination and not be as concerned about lawsuits and other challenges that might arise.”

Will we see more places making moves to require vaccines?

Love’s, one of the state largest employers, issued a statement:

“While Love’s encourages employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it doesn’t currently require it. In January, the company began providing a $75 incentive to employees who voluntarily receive the vaccine, and earlier this year held vaccine clinics for Oklahoma-based employees at its corporate offices in Oklahoma City.”

A spokesperson for INTEGRIS Health Oklahoma City saying, “We do not have a decision yet on requiring caregivers to get vaccinated.”

But the military came out Monday with strong guidance.

“We’re going to move forward, making that vaccine mandatory, we’re preparing the guidance to the force right now,” said Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby.

Officials with the Oklahoma National Guard issued this statement to KFOR:

Oklahoma National Guardsmen are required to meet the same medical readiness standards as the active component. As we receive guidance from the Department of Defense, we will implement those policies as directed. We continue to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to all Oklahoma Guardsmen. The health and well-being of our Service members are of paramount importance. They protect our nation from great threats and they should be protected themselves as much as possible from COVID-19. For further information about COVID-19 vaccines for Service members, please contact the Office of the Secretary of Defense public affairs at 703- 697-5131.

Lt. Col. Geoff Legler, Director, Oklahoma National Guard Public Affairs

As for universities, OSU officials issuing a statement to News 4 saying…

“Governor Stitt’s Executive Order, in addition to prohibiting mask mandates, prohibits the requirement of a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of admittance to any public building.  This includes OSU as a state agency.  Additionally, Oklahoma Senate Bill 658 expressly provides that institutions within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education cannot “require a vaccination against Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution.”

OU echoing the stance…

“At this time, in accordance with Oklahoma law, the university is not requiring COVID-19 vaccines for faculty, staff, or students, with the exception of those in patient-facing settings or those who electively participate in study abroad programs. The university strongly encourages the entire OU community to get vaccinated, particularly those residing in congregate housing. A student vaccination incentive and appreciation program is underway, which offers students enrolled in Norman campus programs the opportunity to win scholarships and OU Athletics season tickets, and OU Human Resources is developing a similar program for employees. Vaccines are available at no cost to all community members through OU Health Services.”

Dr. Chansolme did point out that today’s FDA approval might help in the process of clearing the vaccines for use in those 12 and under, which is still pending.

The State Health Department says this approval won’t affect the way OSDH distributes or administers the Pfizer vaccine in our state.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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