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The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 gains FDA approval


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Now public and private employers and institutions may enforce vaccine mandates.

It is now official.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 has gained FDA approval. This vaccine will now be known commercially as Comirnaty; a strange name if you ask me.

Now vaccine hesitant people who said they were not going to get vaccinated because the medication was not FDA approved, have lost their primary reason for being vaccinated. Of course, health care providers who are now dealing with a fourth surge with the Delta variant of COVID-19 are hopeful that vaccine hesitant people will now go get the jab.

Behavioral scientists tell us not to jump too high. They believe there will be some people who will now get their vaccines but the true sledgehammer of vaccinations will come as companies, universities and other businesses see the FDA approval as a valid way to mandate workers, students, and patrons be vaccinated or run the risk of losing their jobs, being unable to attend schools, shop at a store or dine in a restaurant. Economic power seems to be the real driver in convincing many hesitant people to get vaccinated.

Unfortunately, there will be some who will remain noncompliant. We can only hope such defiance will change.

Health care systems across this country are on the brink of collapse due to the weight of this seemingly unending surge. Hospitalizations are up, ICU beds are close to capacity and hospital staff is fatigued. Talk to any infectious disease expert and they will tell you that 98 percent of patients dying from COVID-19 are unvaccinated. There are a few vaccinated people who have contracted the illness but their symptoms are not as severe as those without any vaccine protection.

The Delta variant is more contagious and it is affecting more people. This variant can cause up to two times as many infections as the original COVID-19 virus. Young people are contracting the disease with severe illness and many are dying.

Masking up is a must. It is an effective way to protect yourself and your children above the age of two. Remember to get a good mask with at least two ply washable/ breathable fabric. Make sure the mask has a nose clip. The clip should fit properly covering the full nose and mouth with no gaps.

As we send our kids back to school, make sure their mask fits properly. You may need to try out several different masks to find one that meets the requirement of being a good and effective fit.

Just like other vaccines, as time goes by, one’s immunity will start to wane. The CDC recommends that people who are immunocompromised receive a booster vaccination to improve the durability of the immunity it provides. That would include people with HIV, undergoing chemotherapy and solid organ transplant patients such as those receiving kidneys. Vaccinated people whose protection may wane and who will need a booster jab include residents of long-term care facilities, older adults and healthcare providers.

In addition, everyone who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be receiving a booster jab at the eight-month anniversary of their full vaccination. So, if you were fully vaccinated in March of 2021, you will be receiving your booster vaccine in November of 2021.

Right now, the data is not completely in on boosters for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It is likely that those vaccine recipients will also need a booster jab.

Please remember that COVID-19 vaccinations have no bearing on your need for other vaccines. Please, be prepared to get your flu vaccine in the fall. If you are of the age that you should be getting a Shingles vaccine and Pneumonia vaccine, please do not delay. Everyone should receive their recommended vaccines in order to be healthy.

More to come as this process consists of an ever changing landscape.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at