TAMPA (WFLA) – Caitlin Cifaldi walked out of a CVS pharmacy on Kennedy Boulevard after receiving her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on the same day it became the first to get full approval from the FDA in the fight against COVID-19.
“I know that I was worried first about getting it,” she said. “That’s why I got it so late but now hearing that it was going to get approved, that’s why I actually got it.”
Cifaldi said her parents have also encouraged her to roll up her sleeve before the 20-year-old student returned to college at the University of Tampa.
“So I definitely wanted to get fully vaccinated before starting,” Cifaldi said, “Especially in Florida since the numbers are a lot worse than back home in Maryland.”
As Florida surpassed 3 million COVID-19 cases for the pandemic in last week’s Department of Health report, the state also reported an increase of about 6,500 doses of vaccine administered from the previous week.
More than 11 million Floridians, or about 51 percent of the state’s population, are fully vaccinated as the more contagious delta variant has created the highest surge during the pandemic with a record level of hospitalizations.
The DOH reports that 66 percent of the state’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated.
Doctors say they are hopeful the full approval for Pfizer will push more of the vaccine-hesitant off the fence.
In a poll on WFLA Now Monday afternoon, only 8 percent of 600 people to respond said they would get the COVD-19 vaccine now that Pfizer moved past emergency use authorization for 16 years and older.
“Well, this is the gold standard, the FDA review with full approval,” said Dr. Steven R. Smith, the chief scientific officer for AdventHealth. “It’s going to make it easier for physicians, for us in the frontlines, to be able to have a conversation with people who are hesitant to say here is the data. We now have all the safety data rolled up.”
8 On Your Side asked Dr. Smith whether Americans should have the same confidence in covid vaccines as older vaccines such as for measles, mumps and rubella.
“We have more data on these (covid) vaccines then any of the other vaccines you’re talking about at the early stages of development,” Dr. Smith said, “so I would say yes, these are remarkable achievements.”
Pfizer’s data shows its two-dose vaccine is effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19.
“Our hospitals are full of young and middle-age people who have not been vaccinated,” Dr. Smith said.
Cifaldi has a message for her unvaccinated classmates with the new college year right around the corner.
“Even though I thought corona was over, I really recommend to get it and its a lot easier to get the vaccine than I thought,” she said.