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Jefferson Health

Home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Jefferson Reacts to FDA’s Full Approval of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

The FDA’s decision to fully approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine marks a milestone moment in the battle against COVID-19 and optimism for the public’s vaccine confidence.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, a milestone in the battle against COVID-19 and a key achievement for public health. On their website, the FDA states that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee) to prevent COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

Millions of Americans have already safely received the COVID-19 vaccine, and for those who expressed hesitancy due to the lack of FDA approval, experts and healthcare workers hope this approval may give them extra reassurance to get vaccinated.

Read on for reactions from across the Jefferson Health enterprise, which echo hope that the FDA’s approval will solidify the vaccine’s safety and efficiency for the public.

– Dr. Bon Ku, emergency medicine physician and director of Jefferson’s  Health Design Lab

The full approval for COVID-19 vaccines, starting with Pfizer’s, truly shows the success of radical collaboration, in this case, an amazing public-private partnership. But we still need to build trust. I’m very proud of the Real Talk campaign Jefferson has sustained to help trusted messengers reach out to all the communities we serve, and make it easy for everyone to get a shot.” – Dr. Stephen K. Klasko, President of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health

Dr. Stephen Klasko speaking at an event
Dr. Stephen K. Klasko

“FDA approval is a recognition of the wonderful and comprehensive science and data supporting the use of the vaccine to prevent hospitalizations and save lives.  These vaccines have prevented enormous amounts of human suffering.  If you haven’t yet received a vaccine, you won’t have a better opportunity than you do right now.” – Dr. Jonathan Gleason, Chief Clinical Officer, Jefferson Health

Dr. Austin Chiang, Chief Medical Social Media Officer, Jefferson Health

“This is a fantastic milestone that we now have a full approved vaccine. This approval is one consideration to improve vaccine confidence that we have all been waiting for, but we still need to focus on local engagement and conversation in communities about the benefits of vaccination. We are anticipating a potential increase in volume for those now ready to get vaccinated. We’ll be ready for you.”  – Dr. Patricia Henwood, lead Emergency Medicine COVID-19 Task Force and co-lead Jefferson Health’s Mobile Community Vaccination Program

Dr. Patricia Henwood

COVID-19 has had economic, academic, social, physical, and mental health impacts on all colleges and universities and their communities. The news that the first vaccine has moved from Emergency Use Authorization to full FDA approval is a great stride forward in the fight against the pandemic. Vaccination provides all of us the best path to return to a robust academic and campus life and I hope this will encourage those who may be hesitant to consider getting vaccinated.” – Dr. Mark L. Tykocinski, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Thomas Jefferson University

“Pfizer’s approval today is another step forward to helping combat this devastating disease. We hope that FDA approval will further encourage the public to get the COVID-19 vaccine.” – Dr. Cindy Hou, Infectious Diseases Physician, Interim Chief Patient Safety & Quality Officer, Jefferson Health – New Jersey

“FDA approval is a marker of healing as we embark on our journey through the COVID pandemic. Our focus of treating the whole person, ensuring our patients have their loved ones by them during the most vulnerable parts of their lives is strengthened by the science that validates the power of the vaccines via data and outcomes. As healthcare leaders, we can improve lives by ensuring that we support science as we fight the pandemic.” – Stephanie D. Conners, Chief Operating Officer, Jefferson Health

“I am happy to see the FDA has taken this next vital step in giving full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. I now urge all of our staff and community to take this approval as a vote of confidence and feel safe in receiving the vaccine to protect themselves and others around them.” – Dr. Bruce A. Meyer, MBA, President, Jefferson Health

Bruce Meyer in his office
Dr. Bruce A. Meyer

“The FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine is great news. My hope is that this will help ease the reservations of some of our patients and that overall it will increase vaccine uptake in our area and across the country.” – Dr. John J. Russell, Chair, Family Medicine, Jefferson Health – Abington
[Editor’s Note: Read Dr. Russell’s top nine reasons for getting vaccinated here.]

Dr. John Russell receiving a covid-19 vaccine.
Dr. John Russel receiving his vaccine in December 2020.

“As nurses, our first priority is always the health of our patients. Our clinical work demonstrates overwhelmingly that people receiving COVID-19 vaccines are more likely to avoid serious illness and death. Unfortunately, all too often nurses bear witness to the impact of vaccination decisions and experience firsthand how the uptick in COVID-related illnesses among the unvaccinated is harming patients and taxing our healthcare systems. Today’s FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine is an important milestone. It further underscores the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and arms our nurses with what they need to educate all patients about the vaccine—to protect them, our dedicated nurses and all the healthcare professionals who care for these patients.” – Kate FitzPatrick, DNP, RN, Connelly Foundation Chief Nursing Executive Officer, Jefferson Health

“I’m hopeful that full approval will allow more folks to get vaccinated and keep people safer in the long run. We have seen an upsetting uptick in patients with COVID who are not vaccinated and my hope is that full approval will encourage people to have more faith in the vaccine!” – Dr. Anna Marie Chang, Emergency Medicine Physician, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
[Editor’s Note: Read Dr. Chang’s personal COVID-19 hospitalization journey here.]

Dr. Anna Marie Chang

“I am hoping that the FDA approval will encourage those who are on the fence about vaccination to finally go get it!”– Dr. John Liantonio, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship Director at Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. John Zurlo, Chair, COVID-19 Task Force, Jefferson Health

Let this clear the skepticism. If you haven’t been vaccinated, now is the time to get vaccinated.” – Brian Swift, Vice President and Chief of Pharmacy, Jefferson Health

“I am hopeful that this will encourage some of the last remaining vaccine skeptics to go forward with getting the shot. While I cannot say I am optimistic, I choose to hope very much that it pushes us closer to that mythical threshold where Americans can finally return to a more normal life.” – Dr. Robert Hilton, Pulmonologist, Jane and Leonard Respiratory Institute, Jefferson Health – National Jewish Health

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COVID-19, From the Experts