The Food and Drug Administration is being pressured to fully approve the COVID-19 vaccines, a move that proponents say could help address hesitancy among the unvaccinated, The Hill reported Wednesday.
An official stamp of full approval from the FDA could also motivate more employers to issue mandates for their employees, and require proof of vaccination for customers.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll at the end of June found that 31% of unvaccinated people said full approval would make them more likely to get the shots.
Some experts have been appealing to the FDA to fully approve the vaccines. The agency has offered reassurances the approval is a top priority but has not given a specific timeline.
"The delay in the @US_FDA full approval of the mRNA #covidvaccines is costing thousands of lives," tweeted Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at the Emory School of Medicine.
"A full approval will be empty if it is perceived as anything but thorough," Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health wrote in a Time opinion column last week. "But there is thoroughness on the science versus thoroughness in the paperwork. The science of these vaccines has been thoroughly vetted.”
Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, tweeted late last month that full FDA approval "should have been done by now" and "could have prevented much of Delta’s hit."
On Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced he would move to make the vaccine mandatory for troops by mid-September but added he would act "immediately" if the shot received full approval before then.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's chief medical advisor, on Sunday expressed hope that FDA approval would happen soon.
"I hope, I don’t predict, but I hope that it will be within the next few weeks," Fauci said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." "I hope it’s within the month of August."
The FDA went through a rigorous process to issue emergency authorization for the vaccines, which experts consider to be extraordinarily safe and effective.
The recent spike in cases fueled by the Delta variant is increasing pressure to do what is necessary to get more people vaccinated.
With cases among children rising, the FDA is being asked by many people to speed up its authorization for children under 12. That age group currently has no access to vaccines.
President Joe Biden said last month that full FDA approval of the vaccines could come "sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year."
The Hill said the Pfizer vaccine was expected to be the first to get full approval as it was furthest along in the process.
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