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Pfizer Vaccine's Full FDA Approval May Pave Way For Stronger Vaccine Mandates

The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that the agency has granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, a move that is likely to ramp up efforts to mandate vaccinations by local governments, employers and managers of places where people congregate.


Previously, the FDA had given authorization for emergency use of the Pfizer vaccination and two others, under which about 170 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. Full approval of vaccines by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson is still pending.

“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," acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

Some places, such as New York City and Philadelphia, have already imposed vaccination mandates as a condition of visiting bars, restaurants and health clubs, and private businesses in some parts of the country have started requiring proof of vaccination as well

"We don't want our staff or customers to get sick," 2Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria owner Peter Pastan told Bisnow.

His Washington, D.C., restaurant has started asking for proof of vaccination, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cards. Last Friday, San Francisco started requiring restaurants to check the vaccination status of their patrons. Other jurisdictions, such as Los Angeles, are still formulating measures to require proof of vaccination for indoor gatherings — plans against which there has been pushback.

Legally, at least, most places that want to require proof of vaccination may do so, except in states like Texas where that has been banned. There has been pushback against such state bans as well.

"While it will undoubtedly be challenging for restaurants to enforce vaccine mandates for the public, we also cannot afford to go back to the days of shutdowns or operating with severely restricted capacities," California Restaurant Association President and CEO Jot Condie said.

Vaccination as a condition of a return to office space might also get a boost from the new FDA approval, though a spate of major companies has been dealing with that issue by delaying worker returns. Last week, national coworking company Convene said it will mandate that all staff, members and guests show proof that they have been at least partially vaccinated starting Sept. 13 and fully vaccinated by Oct. 4.