‘Back to normal’ by Thanksgiving? Local doctors optimistic after Pfizer vaccine full approval

MADISON, Wis.– It’s the FDA’s strongest endorsement and today, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine got it: final approval.

This means the two-shot series has the same level of regulation as other vaccines, and local doctors hope the news will boost public confidence and vaccination rates.

“30% of unvaccinated people were hesitant to get the vaccine because they considered it experimental,” explained UW Health Dr. William Hartman, citing a recent summer survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation showing 3 in 10 Americans said they were waiting for full approval.

“The news came out at a really good time,” said Mo Kharbat, SSM Health Vice President of Pharmacy Services. “We really need the vaccine to be embraced by more people.

Kharbat calls FDA approval the gold standard, requiring at least six months of safety follow-up, but says Pfizer’s two-shot series has always been safe. To date, more than 3 million doses have been administered in Wisconsin, making it the state’s most-used vaccine.

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“We have seen a greater interest in the Pfizer vaccine for the past two months, at least,” Kharbat said. “And we’ve been ordering more of it.  Currently, we have enough supply to meet the demand, and if we need more, we will get more.”

Monday’s news has doctors optimistic and already-vaccinated Wisconsinites wondering: Does this mean we will be able to remove our masks again soon?

Doctors optimistically say ‘yes,’ although how soon depends on a handful of factors:

  • How quickly will people get their shots?
  • How widespread will the Lambda variant become?
  • How soon will the FDA approve a vaccine for kids under the age of 12?

The best case scenario? This fall.

“We could get these masks off before Thanksgiving,” Hartman predicted, adding, “We should be able to get to a place where people have the immunity and our community has the immunity that we can take our masks off sooner rather than later.”

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