Supervisor Nathan Fletcher talks with healthcare workers at the vaccination super station at Cal State San Marcos in January. Photo via @NathanFletcher Twitter

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who has been the face of San Diego County’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, praised the Food and Drug Administration‘s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and urged residents to get their shots

“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reinforced it by granting Pfizer its full approval,” said Fletcher. “To protect our community, we need all San Diegans to get vaccinated.

The FDA, which gave the two-dose vaccine emergency-use authorization in December, went a step further based on updated data from the company’s clinical trial and fully approved it for use in people age 16 and older. Public health officials hope the action will convince unvaccinated Americans that Pfizer’s shot is safe and effective.

There is entrenched vaccine skepticism among some Americans, particularly conservatives. COVID-19 cases, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, have surged in parts of the United States with lower vaccination levels.

“This FDA approval should give added confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective,” President Joe Biden, who has sought to increase vaccination levels, wrote on Twitter.

Shortly after the FDA’s announcement, the Pentagon said it is preparing to make the vaccine mandatory for U.S. military personnel. U.S. health officials expect that the FDA’s full approval also will prompt more state and local governments, as well as private employers, to impose vaccine mandates.

“While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated,” said Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner.

The two other COVID-19 vaccines given emergency-use authorization — made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have not yet received full FDA approval.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.