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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

Full FDA approval for Pfizer could bolster Delaware's vaccine outreach efforts

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

The FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer COVID vaccine on Monday.


And the state hopes that eases the minds of some vaccine hesitant Delawareans.


A significant portion of unvaccinated folks nationwide distrusted the vaccine because of the Emergency use label that came with every shot.


Delaware Division of Public Health medical director Rick Hong says that sentiment tracks in the First State as well.


But, the Pfizer vaccine just received its full approval from the FDA, meaning it’s been even more thoroughly tested and vetted for it’s safety in those 16 and older.


Hong says that’s going to change how DPH reaches out to vaccine hesitant populations.


“We do wanna include the FDA approval status to our messaging because we know that some people will be looking to that as their decision point of whether to get the vaccine or not,” he said. “So we’re gonna push that information out and hopefully people will react to that positively.”


Hong says outreach efforts have helped convince more people to get the shot, particularly in the state’s hispanic community. Almost half of the state’s hispanic population is now fully vaccinated.


Vaccination rates continue to lag the most in Western Sussex county, which is also where the largest percentage of new cases statewide reside.


Christiana Care also released a statement monday on the full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, now called Comirnaty.


"We’ve known for months now that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, as billions of people worldwide have been fully vaccinated, and serious side effects have been extremely rare. This final step in FDA approval for the first of the COVID-19 vaccines is a symbol of what we can achieve together and addresses the concerns of those who were reluctant to get vaccinated while it was under EUA. With the current surge from the delta variant and the unvaccinated, the vaccine represents hope."


Hong says this couldn’t come at a better time — as schools prepare to welcome back kids for in person classes starting next week.


“It was part of the DOE strategy thinking that more kids will get vaccinated when they get closer to the school year,” Hong said. “So a lot of the attention and focus was around this time versus starting right after the previous school year and it seems to be working out well.”


About half of all children between 12 and 17 statewide are vaccinated - and half of those vaccinated kids got their shots over the summer.


And school aged kids now outpace young adults in vaccination rates, the one group the state has had the most difficulty in getting vaccinated.


Hong says combined with the newmask mandate, schools are well prepared to bring kids back in person.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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