Pfizer vaccine earns full FDA approval, ensures students in their decision to get vaccinated

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Baylor students who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine celebrated after the Food & Drug Administration approved it on Monday. In turn, Baylor continues to encourage students to get vaccinated.

President Linda Livingstone said in a presidential perspective that the student population is 67% vaccinated and the staff is 83% vaccinated, but all members of the community need to do their part.

“Vaccinations—more than face coverings, social distancing or any other mitigation effort—continue to be our No. 1 weapon against COVID-19,” Livingstone said.

Houston senior Nicole Ma said she got her Pfizer vaccine in March at Baylor. She said she recently contracted COVID-19 but only had mild symptoms. Ma said she recognizes some people may be hesitant to get the vaccine because it was approved fairly quickly, but that that is only because many healthcare professionals and researchers came together to find a lifesaving solution as quickly as possible.

“People’s fears are valid,” Ma said. “I think there’s just a lot of fear going on, and I think there’s so much mistrust right now in the world … I would just encourage people, if you don’t trust the FDA, maybe ask why. Maybe go and try to do your own research. Find credible scientific papers that lay out what [FDA approval] entails.”

Hewitt senior Katherine Best said she was ecstatic to hear that the Pfizer vaccine, which she got in March from Baylor, was FDA-approved.

“I think that for those who were waiting for it to be FDA-approved, that can push them to get the vaccine or encourage them to get it and hopefully get us closer to herd immunity,” Best said.

Best said she thinks students owe it to each other and the rest of their community to get vaccinated.

“I just think it’s really important to recognize that the Baylor community is not made up of just young adults who have no health conditions,” Best said. “There are students who are severely immunocompromised … and faculty and staff members who are also immunocompromised and who are mostly not young adults. I think that they have not been adequately recognized by those who are not in favor of getting the vaccine. The Baylor community is not just young students but a whole range of ages and abilities and different health conditions.”

Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Benjamin Ryan said the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine means it is safe.

“It’s got the same approval as every other vaccine that’s on the market now,” Ryan said. “So if anyone has had any other vaccine in their life, this has the same level of approval, the Pfizer, and the Moderna is going to follow suit very shortly.”

Ryan said people who are young still need to get vaccinated, no matter their health status.

“Although the symptoms might not be severe, that’s the prime age group for spreading it,” Ryan said. “We’re seeing a significant uptick in cases amongst 20- to 50-year-olds, and it’s really the unvaccinated in the 20- to 50-year-olds that are driving the COVID surge. It’s not the fully-vaccinated driving surge or hospitalizations.”

Ryan said students may recover from COVID-19, but there are other consequences.

“There have been students and young people that have long COVID, which can last for months, and that’s a big factor to consider, because that can really affect your studies and also your time here at Baylor as well,” he said.

Ryan said it is also important to protect and care about healthcare workers.

“The way we can keep the hospitals free and manage their workloads is [by] getting vaccinated,” Ryan said. “Because what that does is that stops us from going to the hospital if you were to contract COVID.”

Ryan said COVID-19 is not going anywhere without more people getting the vaccine.

“The solution to get out of this is vaccines,” Ryan said. “Vaccinations are the way we’re going to get out of this pandemic. We have the solution, we just need to apply that solution.”