Last December saw the conclusion of a record timeline for vaccine development as Pfizer-BioNTech received approval for emergency use of its Coronavirus vaccine. Hailing the vaccine’s development as “a medical miracle,” then President Trump asserted that the vaccine “will save millions of lives and soon end the pandemic once and for all.”
Eight months on, the vaccine’s administration and the subsequent spread of the Delta variant has set off a firestorm of political commentary and civil unrest as various government entities and private organizations have sought to impose vaccine mandates. New York City became the first U.S. city to require proof of at least one vaccine dose to be allowed to engage in a variety of activities, to include indoor dining, gyms, and performances. Officials also announced this week that all NYC public school teachers and staff will be required to be vaccinated against COVID.
Following the submission of data from 44,000 clinical trial participants in the United States, European Union, Turkey, South Africa, and South America, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer for use of its COVID vaccine on individuals 16 and older. In a statement released by the FDA, the approval is reg
A poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in June showed that approximately 30% of unvaccinated adults would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the existing vaccines received full FDA approval. Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., stated, “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.”
What’s likely to also follow this week’s announcement from the FDA is a flurry of vaccine mandates across the whole of society, from state to local governments, various employers, educational institutions, and more. Full FDA approval provides justification now to the Department of Defense in their plans to impose vaccine requirements for all military personnel. Military Times reports that once guidance from the Secretary of Defense is issued, unvaccinated troops will either need to visit a medical facility for vaccination or provide proof of vaccination to their units. Those who choose not to be vaccinated will face recourse that may include “non-deployable status, evaluation marks that could affect promotion, administrative or other non-judicial punishment, or even criminal charges.”
The development and subsequent approval of the COVID-19 vaccine undoubtedly represents a scientific achievement. Mandating it, in many contexts, represents authoritarianism.