18: Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Facts

Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, urges residents to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus; Meredith Allen, ASTHO’s Vice President of Health Security, tells states and territories five things they need to know about the...

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

Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, urges residents to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus; Meredith Allen, ASTHO’s Vice President of Health Security, tells states and territories five things they need to know about the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine; and Daniel E. Dawes, Director of the Satcher Health leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, explains what applicants can expect if they apply for the Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health (DELPH) program.

News Conference: Dr. Scott Harris (SHO-Alabama)

Blog Article: FDA’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: Five things to know

Webpage: Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, September 2nd, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


Today, COVID-19 is taxing Alabama schools as more than 5,500 students test positive for the virus in a single week—that's a 700% increase in student infections over the rate a year ago.

Dr. Scott Harris, the state's health officer, addressed the crisis during his weekly COVID-19 update.


We're really in a crisis situation. We've said that over and over for several weeks.

We need people to understand that you yourself, if you're hearing these words, you're the person who can make a difference.

You need to be responsible for your behavior. You need to do what it takes to not continue this situation. I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to do this.



Still many questions today about the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. ASTHO has a new blog article with five things you need to know about the decision.

Meredith Allen is ASTHO's vice president of health security. She wrote the piece and joins us for a morning conversation.

The article you've written provides answers to five key questions about the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

How did you decide on the questions to include on the list?


So, the questions we included are really those questions we think are the top of mind for most people. And, to be honest, those were the questions that my family members called when they found out and heard the news that Pfizer’s had been given full approval from FDA.

Those were the ones that all my family called with, so we really figured that those are the ones that people wanted to know about the most.


Can you tell us about the key questions that you've answered in the article?



We tried to really get to the heart of the matter, and I think the biggest thing we really wanted to emphasize and make sure that was coming across was the vaccine continues to be safe.

This is a safe vaccine. FDA has continued to monitor it, it has now gotten full approval status and is no longer under emergency use authorization because it is safe and it is really our biggest tool in fighting COVID.


What in the article, then, do you think ASTHO members would find most useful?


I think that the article, you know, again, goes back to conveying safety.

And I think that our membership has really been doing a great job at doing the communicating and really targeting different segments of the population with communication and the messages that folks need to hear.

And I think this gives us another tool to target those folks who are in that “wait and see” group—that group that was not sure, the emergency use didn't sound as comfortable to them as they were wanting, and they really wanted to wait and see how it was affecting people and make sure it was safe.

And now that it's gotten that full FDA approval, it really does give us another tool to go talk to those folks and really comfort them and let them know that it is safe, it is effective, and hopefully allay some of those fears.


Is that how you think states and territories ought to use this information to boost their talking points?


I think they’re going to use it to boost their talking points and really have another tool to talk about.

This gives additional data, it gives additional information to states to be able to provide that to people that are still a little hesitant about receiving the vaccine.



Only a few days left to apply for a new leadership program open to public health professionals who self-identify from an underrepresented group. The deadline to register for the Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health program is next Tuesday, September 7th.

Daniel Dawes leads the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.


We will, of course, be engaging them or providing them with visibility and exposure in governmental public health; access to key networks and leadership opportunities that they have not been privy to.

They're going to be working on their leadership development and growth plans, and then, of course, connecting them to a peer support group, as well as a group of mentors nationally that can help to elevate them to the next phase of their careers.


ASTHO teamed with Dawes and his staff to create the program.

Find a link to the registration page and the show notes.


Finally today, the several state health officials will update reporters this afternoon on the latest developments in the fight against COVID-19.

ASTHO president Dr. Nirav Shah from Maine, ASTHO president-elect Dr. Anne Zink from Alaska, and Dr. Thomas Dobbs from Mississippi are all scheduled to take part in the briefing.

We'll have complete coverage for you on tomorrow's report.


Be sure to visit the show notes for a link to the vaccine article and everything else mentioned today.


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

And, if you have a minute, please take time to leave us a rating and a review.


Join us tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

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

Scott Harris MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA

State Health Officer, Alabama Department of Public Health

Meredith Allen

Vice President, Health Security, ASTHO