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FDA approves Pfizer vaccine while Travis County trudges toward goal 80% vaccination goal

Anyone over the age of 12 years old can get vaccinated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine—Pfizer, which will now be marketed as "Comirnaty"—for individuals over the age of 16 years old on Monday. For those 12-15 years old, the vaccine is still under emergency use authorization.

"The FDA's approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic," Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said. "As the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product."

In order to get approved by the FDA, the agency evaluates data and information from the vaccine's biologics license application, which includes manufacturing details, testing results and site inspection.

Pfizer has been approved under emergency use authorization since Dec. 11, 2020 for those 16 and older and for those 12 years and older since May 10, 2021.

The move could bring some confidence in the vaccine to unvaccinated Austinites. About 70% of Travis County residents are partially vaccinated, almost 60% fully vaccinated. As of Friday, 753 new cases were reported and Austin area ICUs had 222 beds filled.

Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in a Friday press conference that the spread is largely due to the unvaccinated and can be controlled by committing to prevention methods like getting vaccinated, masking in public and staying home if you feel sick.

"As our hospitals are now experiencing larger numbers of cases, this is impacting our ICU capacity, and it is largely due to people who are not vaccinated in our community so we also urge that people go and get vaccinated now," Walkes said. "I would hope that going forward that we as a community will stand together to make the changes that we need to make as a community to get to the other side of the surge."

Children under the age of 12 are still not eligible to receive the vaccine.


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