Baltimore Sun: FDA’s full approval of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine sets stage for more Maryland workplace, school mandates


August 23, 2021
By Hallie Miller and Meredith Cohn

The following is an excerpt from the original Baltimore Sun article.

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine Aug. 23, the federal regulatory agency has set the stage for more immunization mandates in Maryland school systems, workplaces and businesses.

The long-anticipated decision, about eight months after the Pfizer/BioNTech messenger RNA vaccine received emergency use authorization by the FDA, approves the use of the vaccine in people age 16 and over. Kids 12 to 15 can still receive it under the agency’s emergency authorization provision, and younger children remain ineligible to receive any of the three vaccines available in the United States.

In Maryland, where the majority of the population already has received a vaccine, it’s not clear what effect full federal approval will have on persuading those who remain unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves. But approval, the final step in the FDA’s regulatory process, may convince more employers and private establishments to impose vaccine requirements, public health experts and business leaders said.

“Organizations and companies will feel comfortable mandating the vaccine now,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “There are going to be certain people who say this isn’t enough. But many also realize the value of the vaccine for workplace safety and resiliency.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan suggested it may help overcome vaccine hesitancy as well.

“For people who are still hesitant about getting the vaccine, this is an assurance that it has met the most rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness,” Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement.

Vaccine mandates already exist in Maryland hospitals, in skilled nursing facilities and for state employees. But elsewhere, the requirements have been set in piecemeal fashion, with some companies and businesses imposing mandates and many others not.

Several large organizations such as CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Catholic Charities and Miles & Stockbridge also have required vaccinations, recognizing the importance of client and customer safety, said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He said full approval comes at the right time, during a surge of sickness and death overwhelmingly among those who are not vaccinated.

Read the complete article.

Source: The Baltimore Sun