WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has given full approval to the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer.
The Food and Drug Administration’s decision on Monday may help lift public confidence in vaccinations as the nation battles the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet.
The FDA has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety. More than 200 million doses already have been administered in the U.S. since emergency use began in December. The decision could push some vaccine holdouts toward getting the shots. And it could spur more vaccine mandates by companies, universities and local governments.
Only around 60% of adults aged 18 and over have been fully vaccinated even as the new delta variant of COVID-19 has contributed to a surge in cases.
Full approval of Pfizer’s shot now makes it easier for physicians to prescribe a third booster shot to people who could benefit from an additional dose.
The FDA authorized Pfizer’s shot as a booster for people with weakened immune systems, but the White House plans to offer them much more widely in the coming months.
The White House earlier this week said it plans to give out 100 million booster shots, many supplied by Pfizer, to at-risk Americans, including anyone whose initial inoculation is more than 8 months old, starting in September.
Some experts, including at the World Health Organization, say there is not yet enough data to be certain boosters are needed.
Pfizer’s vaccine was authorized for emergency use in December and more than 203 million people in the United States have so far received it.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.