President Biden moved quickly to use the FDA's action as an opportunity to once again encourage unvaccinated Americans to get the shot.
The current FDA head is calling the agency's decision a milestone.
"This is a pivotal moment for our country in the fight against the pandemic," Acting Commissioner Dr. Janey Woodcock said today during a digital press briefing. "The public can be confident that this vaccine meets the FDA's goal standard for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality."
So far, 60 percent of adults 18 and over have been fully vaccinated. That leaves more than 80 million folks out there eligible to get the shot.
New York City's mayor wants to see those numbers shrink after announcing vaccine mandates Monday for the nation's largest school system.
"This will require all staff of every kind - principals, teachers, custodians, food service, you name it - to have at least one dose by Sept. 27," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
With Pfizer's approval, the U.S. Surgeon General says he expects more mandates from private businesses, colleges, local and state governments.
A survey back in June found that 3 in 10 unvaccinated adults would be more likely to get the shots if a vaccine was fully approved.
"For businesses and universities that have been thinking about putting vaccine requirements in place in order to create safer spaces for people to work and learn, I think that this move from the FDA will actually help them to move forward," advised U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
The virus continues to range around the country, accelerated by the Delta variant.
Dr. Joseph Varon of Houston's United Memorial Medical Center said the health system in his city has collapsed.
"It's 'The Neverending Story' and their biggest question is, 'When's this going to stop?'" asked Dr. Varon.
He says right now 33 of the city's 35 hospitals have stopped taking new patients.
"People talk about the collapse of the medical system, and I believe that in this, the largest medical city in the world, we have gotten to that collapse," warned Dr. Varon. "If you have a heart attack or a stroke, you are out of luck. Because most of the beds for those kinds of patients are being allocated for patients that have COVID."
Daily COVID-19 cases are now averaging around 137,000. That's up 237 percent in the last month.
Meanwhile, that FDA approval also means the military will now up the timeline for mandating vaccinations. More guidance on that is expected within a few days.
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