The COVID vaccine: Does FDA approval matter to students?

Senior+Mitchell+Woods+reviews+the+COVID+vaccination+procedures+before+signing+up+for+his+next+dose+in+three+weeks.

Camille Wood

Senior Mitchell Woods reviews the COVID vaccination procedures before signing up for his next dose in three weeks.

Mukul Kulkarni, Copy Editor

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID vaccine; however, there have been mixed reactions to the news. 

Ever since the COVID vaccine became readily available for public use in early 2021, people were eagerly lining up at drive-in vaccination sites and clinics to receive the shot. 

Some, however, were skeptical about the vaccine because the FDA distributed them through emergency-use authorization without its formal approval. First-dose COVID vaccination rates even saw a decrease contrary to the surge in cases during the summer according to ABC News. 

Nevertheless, as soon as the FDA announced its full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the United States alone saw a 17 percent increase in the number of Americans getting their first dose on the first day of the vaccine’s approval.

The full approval replaced the original emergency-use authorization in Dec. of 2020. In the announcement, the acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said to the public that the vaccine meets “high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.” 

Even the the vaccination rates have increased nationwide, the student body is still almost half-and-half regarding their opinion on the safety of the vaccine. A recent Spartan Shield Instagram poll revealed that the FDA’s approval did affect 58 percent of student’s decision whether the vaccine is safe to receive while 42 percent said it did not. 

Senior Mitchell Wood is one of the students who were thrilled to hear of the full approval. His initial concerns of the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine receded as the announcement addressed all of his questions. “Prior, the vaccine was emergency-use only and as a 17-year-old I was admittedly hesitant. The full approval for me dismissed any and all questions and concerns,” Wood explained. 

PV reported in the first two weeks of school, a total of 49 total positive cases were reported; 26 cases in the first week and 23 in the second week. 

With these increases in cases, Wood is thankful that he does not have to wait any longer to get the vaccine. “I originally decided to wait until I turned 18 where my family and I felt more confident. We changed our minds after the approval, as well as the fact that I was going to a near maskless school every day. It felt like it was the smartest choice,” he added.

On the other side of the story, some students remain unphased about the FDA’s announcement. 

For Senior Natalie Ashby, the new approval has not influenced her decision to get the vaccine due to it being out of her control. Her mother is hesitant because the vaccine was developed in such a short time. “[My mother] is especially hesitant with the COVID-19 shot as it is new,” Ashby said. “We don’t know the long-term effects of this shot, so she didn’t feel comfortable having me or my brother take it.” 

While Ashby cannot take the vaccine at the moment, she still practices the guidelines that the CDC recommends: wearing a mask and social distancing as much as possible. 

Although the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the approval’s significance has been individual for students at PV. While some were waiting for this announcement to confidently get vaccinated, others remain unmoved in their position on the vaccine due to uncertainty or factors out of their control.