Written by Charli Turner
On Aug. 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was the first vaccine to receive Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) back in December 2020. Pfizer and BioNTech labs had since been gathering data with the goal of achieving full regulatory approval in 2021, which they have now accomplished.
According to the FDA website, the vaccine will now be marketed as Comirnaty and is officially approved for those 16 years of age and older. For those aged 12 through 15, the EUA put in place in May 2021 is still in effect. Additionally, in certain cases of those who are immunocompromised, a third dose of the vaccine may be administered.
As of Aug. 4, 2021, approximately 40% of Arkansas’ population has been fully vaccinated. However, Arkansas is facing the third-worst outbreak in the country based on new daily cases per capita. This appears to be the driving force behind a new surge of vaccinations. Since July, the number of vaccinated people in southern states, which have come to be known for vaccine hesitancy, has more than doubled.
On Harding’s campus, wearing a mask is no longer required; however, some faculty and students have encouraged people to wear masks, even those who are fully vaccinated, in an attempt to protect those who are not.
Dr. Julie Hixson-Wallace of Harding’s College of Pharmacy encouraged anyone considering vaccination to “get their questions answered by a healthcare professional they trust so they can feel comfortable with their vaccination decision.”
Hixson-Wallace also said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has an excellent safety profile, and rarely has such a life saving treatment been so readily available to the public.
To further the effort of making the vaccine readily available, Harding has hosted several vaccine clinics already and there will be more as the year continues, Hixon-Wallace said. Information on upcoming vaccine clinics will be sent to Harding email accounts and can also be found on Harding’s website under “COVID-19 Information.”
Dr. Jeanie Smith, assistant dean of student affairs and associate professor of pharmacy, said the vaccine has the ability to save the lives of those who are infected with COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and it has the ability to save your life,” Smith said. “You are a valuable person, deeply loved by many people. Make the decision today to get the COVID vaccine. We will have another on-campus vaccine clinic on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Liberty Room in the Burks American Heritage Building.”