11: Impact of Pfizer Approval on Vaccine Hesitant

ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser discusses whether the FDA’s decision to give the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval will win over people still uncertain about vaccination; ASTHO’s Senior Director for State Health Policy, Andy Baker-White,...

Spotify podcast player badge
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge

ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser discusses whether the FDA’s decision to give the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval will win over people still uncertain about vaccination; ASTHO’s Senior Director for State Health Policy, Andy Baker-White, discusses changing guidance and requirements on masks in schools; and a look at ASTHO’s support for a statement urging COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women.

FDA: FDA approves first COVID-19 vaccine

Blog post: The changing guidance and requirements on masks in schools

Statement of strong medical consensus for vaccination of pregnant individuals against COVID-19



ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, August 24th, 2021.

I'm Robert Johnson. Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


The FDA has given full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Since December, it's been allowed under an emergency authorization. The lack of full approval is the reason some have cited when refusing to get a shot.

Now that at least one formula has been fully approved, we wanted to know if the news would be enough to convince vaccine hesitant people to roll up their sleeves.

ASTHO CEO Mike Fraser considers the question in today's morning conversation.

How important is this news for people who've held off getting a vaccination?


I think it's important.

We know that there was a group of people who were waiting for this formal approval before they felt confident in the vaccine's safety. And so, it's important for them, in particular.

And, remember, this is for people age 16 and over, and it's just the Pfizer vaccine.

So, we're hoping that we see some movement on the Moderna vaccine as well soon.


Does the FDA's announcement change the way states and territories message to vaccine-hesitant groups?


Well, I think it takes this barrier off the list of things that state health officials are hearing from their community. There was a group, and there is a group, of people that were waiting for this.

I think the other opportunity this presents is for private organizations to mandate vaccination. We know that there were some organizations that were hesitant to do that with an EUA vaccine.


Ultimately, then, what's the impact of a fully approved vaccine on this race to head off the Delta variant?


Well, I think in typical times this would be much more profound; but since we've seen such a large number of people vaccinated prior and we have a pretty good sense of the vaccine safety and efficacy, this is really, you know, a formality, if you will.

But I think, again, for some it's very important and, again, it's just another positive move to getting more of this country vaccinated, which is public health’s goal number one right now.



Also today, ASTHO joins 21 of the nation's leading medical and public health organizations in a statement urging pregnant women or those considering pregnancy to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The statement reflects a strong medical consensus about the safety of the vaccines for women, whether they're planning a pregnancy, are pregnant, or have recently had a baby.


Finally, states and territories have taken different approaches to the CDC's recommendation that schools mask up.

ASTHO's senior director for state health policy, Andy Baker-White, writes about the varied responses to the notion of school-wide masking in a new ASTHO blog post. He says some states are adopting the guidance while others are not. Whatever ASTHO members decide, Baker-White says public health departments will continue to inform the debate.


I think the role is informing parents, informing schools, informing local administrators about the benefits of masking.

Illustrating that masking is part of a layered approach that goes along—you know, it's just one part of the CDC guidance. There's, you know, within the guidance, there's also ventilation, testing, handwashing, and so forth.

So, I think just reminding folks that masking is just one layer of the ways that we're going to protect students while they're in school and actually keep schools open.



Find a link to the blog on mask guidance, the FDA announcement, and ASTHO's statement about vaccines for pregnant women in today's show notes.

Also, remember to follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

Join us tomorrow for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.



Andy Baker-White JD MPH

Senior Director, State Health Policy, ASTHO