Vaccination rates remain low in many parts of our region, especially Wyoming and Idaho. But public health officials hope the FDA's full approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will encourage residents who are hesitant or unwilling.
Mark Dowell, an infectious disease expert and the Natrona County Health Officer in central Wyoming, is optimistic the FDA action will directly change some minds. Still, he doesn't expect a huge difference based on what he hears from the public.
"A few say, 'Yeah, when it gets approved, I'll think about it.' The very few say, 'Once it's approved, I'm going to go get it immediately,'" he said.
However, Dowell does expect more employers to now make it mandatory, and that could be a boost.
"Just in terms of volume, I'm thinking, employers making it mandatory will hit more people. Because they're going to want to keep their jobs," -- especially at medium or big companies, he said.
In the meantime, several states in our region plan to use the approval to reassure and encourage more residents to get the jab.
Nikki Forbing-Orr with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in an email, "[W]e hope this will help nudge those who are hesitant to get vaccinated. We’ll be sharing fact-based information in our external communications in an attempt to address rumors and false information."
Previously, the FDA had authorized vaccines from Pfizer and other companies for emergency use.
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