(NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, a milestone that may help lift public confidence in the shots as the nation battles the most contagious coronavirus mutation yet.
The approval could boost the vaccination campaign by convincing more unvaccinated Americans that Pfizer’s shot is safe and effective and also make local officials more comfortable in implementing vaccine mandates.
Vaccine hesitancy has been a major hurdle to the White House’s goal of getting all eligible Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.
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.
The U.S. is the first country to fully approve the shot, according to Pfizer, and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement he hoped the decision “will help increase confidence in our vaccine, as vaccination remains the best tool we have to help protect lives.”
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 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 that 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.