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Local experts hope FDA approval for Pfizer vaccine will convince more people to get the shot

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After months of emergency authorized use, the Pfizer vaccine was approved on Monday by the Food and Drug Administration to combat COVID-19.

Upstate University Hospital's new Chief of Infectious Disease, Dr. Elizabeth Asiago-Reddy, said this couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I do think that because of the combination of Delta being so much more contagious, kids going back to school, and then also of the beginning of fall over the next couple of months, this is our critical time,” she said.

Asiago-Reddy is hoping the federal sign-off of the vaccine will instill more public confidence in its effectiveness.

“The FDA approval does add that additional layer of a sense of thoroughness and scrutiny that I think a lot of people were looking for,” she said, adding that, along with public confidence, the approval will likely lead to more vaccine mandates in businesses.

In May, former governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all SUNY students would be required to get vaccinated, but that decision couldn’t be enforced until FDA approval. Now that it is here, SUNY can officially mandate vaccines for its students, which officials did confirm is now in effect as of Monday.

This is in line with existing vaccination policies at other schools like Syracuse University and LeMoyne College.

Asiago-Reddy said this FDA approval really came at the perfect time.

“I think this comes at a very critical time because certainly in our area we have seen in the last couple of weeks an increase in the numbers of cases of patients that are getting sick with COVID,” she said.

This approval also comes as federal officials formally recommend a booster shot for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines starting this fall.