Full approval of Pfizer vaccine comes as vaccinations slowly increase in Hampton Roads

COVID-19 Vaccine

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Pfizer has said that its vaccine is 90% effective in protecting a fully vaccinated person from getting COVID-19.

Now, with the FDA giving its support, will people who have been hesitant get the shot?

Scientists and activists hope the full approval will encourage the hesitant to finally roll up their sleeves. No longer under an emergency use authorization, the full approval could pave the way for vaccine mandates in hospitals, businesses and schools.

In the meantime, free vaccine clinics are still popping up across Hampton Roads.

There was something to celebrate at New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach this weekend.

Some 50 people rolled up their sleeves in the church’s fellowship hall for doses of the potentially life-saving coronavirus vaccine during the church’s annual Community Day event.

“We had a pretty good turnout. It was steady from the moment we opened until the moment we closed,” said Dr. James Allen, who is a member and the president of the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference.

Several members of the group have been on the front lines of efforts to get underserved communities vaccinated.

Since the early stages of the vaccine rollout, more than 1,700 people have received vaccinations at New Hope Baptist Church where Dr. E. Ray Cox is pastor.

Saturday in Newport News, customers could get a little taken off the top and a vaccine.

At Perfect Styles Beauty and Barber Salon on Oyster Point Road, COVID-19 and double lung transplant survivor DJ David Champion kept the music going while stylists and barbers encouraged customers to roll up their sleeves.

Schools supplies and the life-saving vaccination were handed out at Lafayette High School in Williamsburg during a back-to-school celebration hosted by Real People Educating Others.

In Hampton, in an event sponsored by the NAACP, vaccinations were on a roll as the team from the Hampton University mobile vaccination unit administered shots to those in underserved communities.

On Monday afternoon in a nationally televised statement, President Joe Biden told the vaccine-hesitant the season of waiting is over: the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved by the FDA and the unvaccinated should get the shot today.

Most patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated and they harbor the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus vaccine.

In Hampton Roads, scientists and activists are hopeful the full approval of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine followed by the eventual full approval of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will encourage the hesitant to set aside false claims propagated on social media.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, 55.7% of white residents in Virginia are vaccinated compared to 50.9 % of Black residents. The numbers are improving.

Dr. Anna Peoples, who operates a pharmacy on Norfolk’s historically Black Church Street, says in recent days the number of shots administered at her pharmacy has tripled to about 20 each day.

Vaccination numbers could increase dramatically as Pfizer’s seal of approval could trigger more vaccination mandates for health systems, businesses, municipalities, and schools. The president previously ordered vaccinations for members of the military.

From vaccine hesitancy, to COVID-19 hospitalizations, to final farewells for those claimed by the virus, Allen, with the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference, ministers to those in need and their survivors.

“To me, it’s unexplainable quite honestly. All you have to do is take a look at the numbers who have unfortunately lost their lives to this disease. For the life of me, I don’t understand people hesitating to take something that will give you a chance if you contract the disease,” said Allen.

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