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Reports: FDA could fully approve Pfizer COVID vaccine by Monday

Two local medical experts on the frontline of the vaccine rollout hope full FDA approval makes a difference when it comes to vaccine hesitancy.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Right now the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines all have emergency use authorization.

However, come Monday, the Pfizer vaccine could receive full FDA approval, according to multiple reports, including the New York Times.

"It's long overdue. I think it helps in the whole process because that's been one of the barriers in people not taking the vaccine," said Dr. Raul Vazquez, a physician with Urban Family Practice.

Dr. Vazquez told 2 On Your Side he hopes the FDA approval could help when it comes to vaccine hesitancy. 

"That will just set the stage for us to really push this a little bit harder," said Vazquez.

Dr. Nancy Nielsen, the senior associate dean for health policy at the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine, also hopes it makes a difference for those still on the fence. 

"It's interesting that about 30 percent of unvaccinated people say that they are waiting for the full approval to be given. We'll see if that is just an excuse and they're really vaccine resistant, but I think it will help," Dr. Nielsen said.

However, Dr. Nielsen added it's important for people to understand that even for the emergency use authorization, there was rigorous testing and evaluation of the data available.

Combatting misinformation about the shots, both doctors explained, remains a challenge. 

"The TikToks, the Facebooks, the Twitters really don't have any accountability. Maybe with this approval now we start logistically looking at some of that false information and really correct it," Dr. Vazquez said.

Dr. Nielsen added, "There's a lot of misinformation that's circulating. I will tell you if we had had this when the Polio vaccine was first developed and made available to the public, we'd still have Polio in our country." 

Dr. Nielsen and Dr. Vazquez warn, once again, that the Delta variant is extremely contagious. They worry as the virus spreads it will continue to mutate. 

"A virus can't mutate unless it's replicating and it's replicating when it finds an unvaccinated person and infects them, so while things are not dire here, the risk is very grave to the unvaccinated," Dr. Nielsen said.

A spokesperson with the Erie County Department of Health confirmed to 2 On Your Side on Saturday evening, from April through August, more than 90 percent of the recent COVID-19 deaths in Erie County were people who were not fully vaccinated.

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