Community and health leaders weigh in on FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 6:40 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 19:42:10-04

MILWAUKEE — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, but the milestone does not necessarily mean flocks of people are lining up for their shots.

"Many of the people that were hesitant in regards to the vaccine are still hesitant today," said Pastor Kurt Owens, who heads UFlourish Church in Milwaukee.

Owens said he got vaccinated so that he would not be limited in what he could do. He expected it would be required at some point, adding that in his community some are still reluctant despite FDA approval, because of a lack of trust in government.

"It's a matter of what people are comfortable with. Even as a church, we want to love people wherever it is that they sit on the aisle," Owens said.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey taken over the summer found 3 in 10 unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get vaccinated when there was full FDA approval.

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Lead pharmacist Rani Rajan at Mercy's Walworth Pharmacy said it's hard to pinpoint exactly why she has seen more people getting COVID-19 vaccines over the last month.

"I feel like there’s a few different variables," Rajan said.

Whether it is the delta variant, vaccine mandates, or the new $100 incentive driving the rise, Rajan still thinks the FDA approval adds another layer.

"It’s a good way to put it, that vote of confidence on the vaccine and the type of technology that they’ve used to create the vaccine, that says 'hey, this is going to protect you,'" Rajan said.

Milwaukee County's chief health policy advisor, Dr. Ben Weston, believes FDA approval may more largely impact those considering vaccine mandates.

"Whether it's governments, whether it's academic institutions, businesses, whether it's other healthcare entities that haven't yet put a vaccine requirement in place. I think the FDA authorization has added incentive to do that, but then also can have added confidence in them pursuing that," Dr. Weston said.

Health officials have said it will take time to see how big of a role the FDA's approval plays in an individual's choice to get vaccinated.

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