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Local health expert, community react to FDA’s approval of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 10:17 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

Dr. Paul Kamitsuka is chief epidemiologist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and says the thorough process of receiving full FDA approval confirms that the vaccine is safe and effective.

“It’s one of the most scrutinized processes of any pharmaceutical product, if not the most scrutinized in all of history, and all of the data in today’s validation by the FDA just underscores the fact that all of the information basically provides reassurance for us,” said Kamitsuka.

Some individuals who have not gotten vaccinated for COVID-19 yet said the decision will change their minds.

“I think now that the FDA approved it, I kind of feel better about getting vaccinated, and I think I will and I think I should get vaccinated,” said local Emily Swain.

That line of thinking eases concerns for Matthew Gregory-Poole, a worker who interacts with the public every day.

“If everybody were to get the vaccine, I would feel 100% more safer within my job,” said Gregory-Poole.

The FDA mentioned that its scientific and medical experts conducted a thorough evaluation of the vaccine before the approval.

Kamitsuka says vaccines are the answer to getting past the pandemic. He’s hoping more people will be confident now to get it.

“We need everybody to do their part so we can get through this pandemic as well as we possibly can,” said Kamitsuka.

He mentioned that staff at the hospital are overrun with COVID patients, which is drawing resources away from people who need other medical attention, like heart attack or stroke patients.

Kamitsuka added that the FDA’s approval should make it easier for places like universities, businesses and even grocery stores to mandate vaccinations for employees and customers.

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