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Universities, hospitals plan to mandate vaccines upon full FDA approval

"We will mandate the vaccine when it comes off the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization)," Ochsner Health President and CEO, Warner Thomas, said.

NEW ORLEANS — The FDA expects to grant full approval for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine within the month, or at least sometime this fall. That's when universities and hospitals plan to mandate the vaccine for employees.

"These are among the safest and most effective biological products that have been seen in decades," Dr. Lucio Miele with LSU Health said. "I don't see them as any different than other vaccines that protect the public."

The COVID vaccines are currently under Emergency Use Authorization. According to the FDA's website: "FDA approval of a drug means that data on the drug's effects have been reviewed by CDER, and the drug is determined to provide benefits that outweigh its known and potential risks for the intended population. The drug approval process takes place within a structured framework."

"I reviewed them myself. There isn't anything secret about this," Dr. Miele said. 

Dr. Miele knows the thorough process well as he previously worked for the FDA. 

"When I worked at the FDA we were blamed at being too thorough and taking too long," he said. 

LSU's President, William Tate, tweeted a video announcing they will require the vaccine as soon as the FDA grants approval.

"We plan to mandate the vaccine at that time," Tate said. "I think it's wise for you to consider getting vaccinated ahead of that time."

The University of Louisiana System which includes the University of New Orleans, Southeastern, and Nicholls has petitioned with the state to add the COVID vaccine among its list of required immunizations following FDA approval too.

The Secretary of Defense is requesting approval to make the vaccine mandatory for service members by mid-September.

Many hospitals, including Ochsner, plan to mandate the vaccine for their employees too.

"We will mandate the vaccine when it comes off the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization)," Ochsner Health President and CEO, Warner Thomas, said.

Full approval may urge more people to get the shot. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, three in ten unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get vaccinated once it's fully approved. 

"I'm hoping it will because I don't see any other way to bring this pandemic to an end," Miele said. 

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine may be fully approved by Labor Day. Moderna is also on its way to approval and Johnson and Johnson expects to apply for full approval later this year.