Local perspectives on COVID-19 vaccines and Pfizer’s full FDA approval


Pharmacies are offering the COVID-19 vaccine along with yearly flu shots as the virus continues to be a big part of our daily lives.

Amelia Kaiser, News and Features Editor

Weeks after the FDA fully approved the first COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, COVID-19 case rates are still on the rise. This makes it unclear if the approval has meant anything to unvaccinated Americans as most COVID-related deaths involve unvaccinated people.

Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, M.D., hoped that the full FDA approval might mean that previously vaccine-hesitant people might change their minds.

“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,” Woodcock said in a press release from the FDA.

Nicole Connor, a preschool teacher from La Jolla, is unvaccinated and will remain so. Connor has Crohn’s disease and is skeptical that there is any vaccine that will not give her an adverse reaction.

“My body has never reacted well to any medication, like even Advil growing up. I’ve never even done the flu shot, or anything like that because my body does not react well to anything. I’ve always opted out,” Connor said.

The CDC continues to back the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. In California, the hospitalization rate for breakthrough COVID-19 cases occurring in vaccinated people is only 0.4 percent.

Based on her own observations, Connor has seen just as many vaccinated people get COVID compared to her non-vaccinated friends. “It’s not a cure…it’s not even gonna make it so you are, like, safe from getting COVID,” Connor said.

“I just look at it as, it’s kind of the same. I see people who are vaccinated, getting COVID, and then giving it to other people — they’re still spreading it. It’s like we’re all still in the same boat.”

When vaccines are required to work or go out in public, Connor believes it becomes a matter of discrimination.

Since workplaces began mandating employees to be vaccinated, Connor has been unable to continue working at her other job as a Hebrew teacher. “That’s where I find it really disconcerting. That in a situation like this, I was not hired as a Hebrew school teacher this year because I am not vaccinated,” Connor said. “And that, to me, is discrimination.”

Connor is not the only San Diegan with this sentiment. ReOpen San Diego, a self-described non-partisan coalition, pushes for full reopening of San Diego county and is against vaccine mandates.

Their website states: “Reopen means reopen for ALL and for good without vaccine verification, mask mandates or arbitrarily classifying businesses and employees as non-essential.” The organization was contacted for a quote but did not respond.

Lisa Cohen, who has been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, is an occupational therapist working in a nursing home.

She is glad that people are facing accountability for their decision to not get the vaccine, as vaccine mandates in workplaces are the only thing she thinks will motivate unvaccinated people to get inoculated at this point.

“The little extra nudge, I think is probably a good thing,” Cohen said. “If you’re in danger of losing your job and you need to work and you need to pay a mortgage, I believe people will then get it. But most people who got it already, got it. They wanted to get it. The rest, they really do not want to get it.”

As a healthcare worker, Cohen is ready for there to be a change. “It’s exhausting just to see — and not understand why people don’t understand how important it is to get vaccinated,” Cohen said.

“I think all of us in rehab and at the nursing home just want things to quiet down.”

As it stands, 78.8 percent of San Diegans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement following the FDA approval, California Department of Public Health director Tomás J. Aragón, M.D., Dr.P.H. urged all Californians to get vaccinated.

“We know the vaccines work. We know vaccines are safe. We know they save lives. If you are not vaccinated, let this be the milestone that gets you there,” Aragón said. “Get vaccinated to protect yourself and help put an end to this deadly pandemic.”

As of 3/14/22: 34 Views, 0 Comments, 18 Likes