COVID-19 Vaccine: FDA Approval Did Not Increase Public Vaccine Acceptance


Respondents to a recent poll were still hesitant to get the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.

Full federal approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine did not lead to a spike in the number of people getting their shots against COVID-19, according to a new study.

The FDA approved the biologics license application for the vaccine on August 23, 2021.

Before then, “lack of a formally approved COVID-19 vaccine was a common reason given for nonvaccination in polls,” said the research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.1

Researchers used an online poll to categorize respondents as “acceptant,” getting vaccinated as soon as possible; as hesitant, unsure or continuing to wait for more safety or efficacy data; and resistant, definitely not getting vaccinated or “only if mandated.”

From August 24 to September 9, 2021, 19 people reported receiving their first COVID-19 vaccine dose after the FDA approval.

There were 45 respondents in the acceptant group, with 244 as hesitant and 224 in the resistant group.

The results suggested the FDA full approval “had little immediate impact on vaccination intentions,” the research letter said.

“Unvaccinated Americans who said they were awaiting full FDA approval before being vaccinated may have been providing a socially desirable response, or they may subsequently have ‘moved the goal post’ for the level of vaccine safety and efficacy data needed before vaccinating after FDA approval occurred,” the research letter said.

The result was important for vaccine interventions and policy in future infectious disease outbreaks, said the researchers led by corresponding author Aaron M. Scherer, PhD, of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa. They noted at the start of 2022, 25% of American adults remained partially vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19.

This article originally appeared on Medical Economics.


  1. Scherer AM, Parker AM, Gidengil CA, et al. COVID-19 vaccine uptake and intentions following US Food and Drug Administration approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. JAMA Intern Med. Published online April 11, 2022. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.0761
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