FDA chief seeks to reassure Americans about COVID vaccine, says he will take it

FDA chief seeks to reassure Americans about COVID vaccine, says he will take it

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn sought to reassure the public on Saturday about the thoroughness of the agency’s review of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any risks, after the agency authorized it for emergency use on Friday evening.

“Efficiency does not mean any cutting of corners,” Hahn said at a press conference.

“I will absolutely take this COVID-19 vaccine, pending availability and distribution, because I have complete trust and confidence in the FDA’s career staff’s evaluation,” he said.

The FDA has made the review process of Pfizer’s vaccine “as transparent as possible,” he said, to ensure all American’s can have confidence in the carefulness of the agency’s review.

Distribution, however, will take time, so people should continue to follow guidelines for remaining safe, Hahn said.

“We remind the public to remain vigilant, as inoculation will take time. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and remain socially distant when possible,” Hahn said. He added he was concerned about “vaccine hesitancy,” but believed that the agency’s transparency and thoroughness in the approval process would “go a long way” in convincing Americans that the vaccine would be safe to take.

Frontline medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to get the vaccine, and could receive it as early as Monday. The vaccine is authorized for people age 16 and older, the FDA said in a statement announcing the decision.

“The FDA’s authorization for emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccine is a significant milestone in battling this devastating pandemic that has affected so many families in the United States and around the world,” Hahn said in the statement on Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement on Saturday that pilots and air traffic controllers may receive the Pfizer vaccine.

“To maintain the highest level of safety in the National Airspace System, the agency will require aviation professionals with medical certifications or medical clearances to observe a period of 48 hours following the administration of this vaccine before conducting safety-sensitive aviation duties, such as flying or controlling air traffic,” the statement said.