More than two dozen crew members of the Algoma Victory traveled to the International Seafarers Center in the Port of Long Beach to receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on May 25, 2021. Photo courtesy the Port of Long Beach.

Local and state officials expressed hope on Monday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 and over will encourage people who have been hesitant about vaccination to finally get the shot.

“Although millions of people across the country and the county have already received this vaccine and the data has overwhelmingly shown that it is safe and effective, I know that for some who remain hesitant full approval was a key factor,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis said in a statement. “With this step, it is my hope that those who are still unvaccinated see that the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines have been proven yet again.

“I also encourage businesses, healthcare facilities, schools, and other sectors who had been waiting for full FDA approval to follow the county lead and begin implementing vaccine requirements,” she said. “Only by further increasing vaccinations can we slow the spread of the Delta variant, prevent severe hospitalization and death from this virus, and finally put an end to this pandemic. Today’s full approval is another key milestone in that process.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom added, “With COVID-19 cases rising across the nation due to the Delta variant, I encourage all Californians to trust the science and protect themselves and their community by getting vaccinated. With more than 80% of Californians 18 and up having received at least one dose, our work continues to close the gap in our most impacted communities and bring an end to this pandemic.”

Joseph I. Castro, chancellor of the Long Beach-based Cal State University system, also urged vaccinations to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Since vaccines became available in December 2020, their use has allowed us to begin to return to many of the activities we had missed over the past 18 months, including seeing and engaging with family and friends,” Castro said in a statement. “To win our nation’s fight against the pandemic once and for all, each of us has a role to play and it is imperative that we all do our part.”

The CSU system, as well as the University of California system, is requiring all students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to take part in any in-person classes or activities during the fall term. The university systems had originally announced they would only mandate the shots once at least one of the vaccines received full FDA approval, but both later imposed the requirement regardless of the FDA process.

All three vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—have been in circulation under an “emergency use” authorization from the FDA. Pfizer is the first to be granted full approval.

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