Health Comm Headlines: FDA Approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine

A doodle reads a newspaper called "Health Comm Headlines." The headline reads, "FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine."

If you’re like us, dear readers, you were thrilled to hear about the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive FDA approval last week. With the Delta variant causing COVID surges across the country, it’s certainly good timing for this important step.

This news has also really gotten us thinking about all things FDA approval. What exactly is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) anyway? What’s the practical difference between EUAs and full FDA approval? Will approval of the Pfizer vaccine help us move the vaccination needle among hesitant folks? There’s a lot to discuss!

That’s why we felt like this was the perfect opportunity to introduce a new series we’re starting here at We ❤️ Health Literacy Headquarters. Every so often, we’ll bring you a roundup of articles or other resources that caught our attention and sparked discussion among our team. Hopefully they’ll be of interest to you, too — and they might even help you communicate to your audiences about the latest health comm conundrums!

So without further ado, here’s some reading material on FDA approval and FDA approval-adjacent things — feel free to let us know your thoughts by responding to this email or tweeting at us!

  • Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines Explained (U.S. Food & Drug Administration)
    This explainer from FDA itself has some helpful details and framing about the ins and outs of EUAs, including a section at the end that outlines how experts were able to develop COVID-19 vaccines so quickly.
  • The FDA Really Did Have to Take This Long (The Atlantic)
    This piece lays out what it calls a “fundamental tension” between access to lifesaving vaccines and the assurance of quality control. As the author states: “For full FDA approval to bring all the benefits it could, people need to trust that such approval means something.”
  • Why Pfizer’s FDA Approval Matters and What It Means for Vaccine Mandates (NPR)
    This article starts by explaining how a drug gets FDA approval — then moves into tricky territory like the legal distinctions between EUAs and full approval, how approval might impact school and employer mask mandates, and the impact of Pfizer’s new status on vaccine-hesitant folks.
  • How the Messaging Around FDA Approval Could Boost COVID Shots (Axios)
    This piece by Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, gives some insight into how people who haven’t gotten their vaccine yet might feel about the approval of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. It’s important to note that Altman wrote this piece before Pfizer’s FDA approval, but we really ❤️ the emphasis of leveraging the approval to message about vaccine safety and efficacy.

Tweet about it: Check out @CommunicateHlth’s #HealthComm Headlines for a roundup of reading material related to FDA’s approval of the Pfizer #COVID19 vaccine:


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