Health minister hopes FDA vaccine approval will allay fears

Health Minister Sabrina Turner says she hopes that the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will ease the fears of people who are refusing to be inoculated due to safety concerns.

On Monday, the FDA fully approved the two-dose vaccine for people ages 16 and older. Before this, the vaccine was approved for emergency use. For children who are ages 12 to 15, and for those who are immunocompromised and need a booster shot, the vaccine is still available under an FDA emergency use authorisation.

Turner said in a statement Tuesday morning that the Cayman Islands government had taken careful note of the FDA’s full approval of the vaccine, which she said “demonstrates what we have stated all along which is that vaccines developed to fight the COVID-19 disease meets the highest standards of the international health sector”.

She added, “For Cayman Islands residents yet to be vaccinated, we hope that the FDA approval will allay any remaining fears concerning the safety of the vaccine. We urge everyone to do their due diligence and then to take the vaccine. It is our best protection against the disease as individuals and as a community.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the most commonly used one in the Cayman Islands, with the UK government shipping free supplies to the islands as needed. As of Monday, 100,164 doses of the vaccine had been administered here.

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The FDA issued its emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine December last year. Pfizer and BioNTech applied for full approval in May.

The final approval process required an analysis of the benefits and risks of the drug and an examination of clinical trials, much of which had been done when the FDA authorised the vaccine’s emergency use. However, before it could give final sign-off, the FDA required data on how people fared six months after being fully vaccinated.

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