FDA approval reignites vaccine push

Kansas officials are doubling down on vaccination efforts after the FDA officially approved the Pfizer vaccine yesterday.

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August 24, 2021 - 8:14 AM

KDHE secretary Lee Norman and Gov. Laura Kelly urge Kansans to get vaccinated following formal approval of the Pfizer vaccine by federal regulators. (SHERMAN SMITH/KANSAS REFLECTOR)

TOPEKA — Kansas health secretary Lee Norman and Gov. Laura Kelly say formal approval of the safe and effective Pfizer vaccine removes a hurdle for defeating the latest surge of COVID-19 in Kansas.

The rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant has killed hundreds of Kansans and sickened thousands more in recent weeks. On Monday, the Kansas Department for Health and Environment reported four more deaths, 54 hospitalizations and 2,778 new cases since Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration granted approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, and approval of Moderna’s vaccine is expected within weeks.

Norman said approval by federal regulators should instill confidence in hesitant Kansans because of the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing set by the FDA.

“The best way to fight this disease, especially the variant, is to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Norman said. “For those that were waiting on full approval and more data, it’s happened today. Everyone who is eligible should schedule their appointment today to get the vaccine.”

Nearly all of the new cases of COVID-19 in Kansas are attributed to the delta variant, state officials said. The delta variant is more than twice as contagious as previous strains of the deadly disease, and the recent rise in cases is comparable to numbers from last November. The state’s death toll for COVID-19 has risen by 240 in three weeks.

The free vaccines reduce the risk of serious illness from the delta variant and are available to anyone ages 12 and older. So far, just 56.1% of eligible Kansans are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The vaccine is safe, effective against severe illness and death, and our best tool to beat this virus,” Kelly said. “Today’s announcement from the FDA is good news. I urge all Kansans to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves, their neighbors, our frontline workers, and our economy.”

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