WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A West Palm Beach doctor called Monday's full approval by the Food and Drug Administration of the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine "great news."
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
Doctors and other health officials hope the FDA's decision will compel some vaccine holdouts to get the shot as COVID-19 cases have spiked this summer due to the more contagious delta variant.
Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi, an infectious disease specialist in West Palm Beach, said the delta strain is about eight times more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain in 2020.
"Folks that we saw last year who contracted COVID and were not very sick especially young folks, now they're coming in severely ill and very quickly," Osiyemi said. "This current strain really affects everyone equally regardless of your age."
Osiyemi, the founder and CEO of Triple O Medical Services, said at his office they are seeing about 15 to 20 COVID-19 patients a day receive treatment for monoclonal antibodies.
The doctor said he is concerned about the rise in pregnant women contracting the virus.
"We have a lot of pregnant women coming in who are healthy people getting COVID," Osiyemi said. "They are so sick that some of them are ending up on a breathing machine."
With the FDA approval, the Pentagon said it is preparing to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for the U.S. military.
"I think you're going to see more and more institutions, businesses enforce mandatory vaccination to keep their employees healthy," Osiyemi said.
The full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, which will now be marketed under the name "Comirnaty," applies to people 16 and older.
The vaccine is still available for kids aged 12 through 15 under emergency use authorization.
The CDC has said that clinical trials in people 16 years and older show that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing infection.
Osiyemi said the public can expect a similar approval from the FDA regarding Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.