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Aspirus Infectious Diseases Pharmacist Discusses FDA Approval of Pfizer's COVID Vaccine

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Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine received full approval by the Food and Drug Administration yesterday.

It’s a step that involves analyzing a full six months of data about a vaccine’s safety.

This advancement from Emergency Use Authorization means there’s a few changes for vaccine providers and patients, according to Tristan O’Driscoll, an infectious diseases pharmacist for Aspirus Health in Wausau.

“From a provider standpoint, full approval allows providers to use vaccine off-label,” he says.

That means doctors can authorize the Pfizer vaccine for patients under 16, for example, if they deem it in the patient’s best interest.

“You would ideally want to wait for those approvals to come out, but physicians and patients can have these discussions with younger patients about what the risks and benefits are,” O’Driscoll says. “That’s what the full approval allows.”

In addition to opening up these conversations, O’Driscoll hopes full approval lets people who were hesitant to get vaccinated now consider doing so.

“Hopefully that [approval] will help with our patients who have been apprehensive about getting the vaccine because it has been proven safe and effective,” he says.

He also notes full FDA approval gives employers and schools more leverage to mandate the COVID vaccine.

The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccines have not been fully approved by the FDA yet, but they’re expected to get approval soon.

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