CLEVELAND — A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that nearly one-third of Americans are waiting for full FDA approval before they say they would feel comfortable getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The existing vaccines in circulation have only been given emergency use authorization by the FDA, and officials say that once the full clearance has been passed down, there may be a significant uptick in vaccination mandates from employers.
"Once you have full FDA approval there's very little standing in the way of a company requiring you to get vaccinated," said Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Amy Edwards.
Dr. Edwards also thinks getting vaccines into primary care doctor's offices would help if they can be stored and administered safely.
"If you can go to your doctor, chat about your blood pressure, chat about your heart and then get your shot, I think a lot of people might go for that," Dr. Edwards said.
Lastly, Dr. Edwards says that she believes the COVID-19 Delta variant, predicted to be the leading strand in the U.S. by fall, may play a role too.
"When outbreaks start happening and people start to get hospitalized, I hate to use the stick, but when carrots aren't working," she said.
She says there's no way to know when those vaccinated will need boosters, however, breakthrough infections in study participants--who are coming up on a year since their first dose-- will be the first to tell us.
"They'll kind of be the canary in the coal mine and that's one of the main reasons why the study is ongoing so it will be interesting to see how the next three or four months go," she said.
As much as she'd like to say natural infection will play a part in herd immunity Dr. Edwards says studies show protection in those over 65 wanes rapidly. Younger people may have about 85 percent protection for a few months, while those over may have up to 25 percent.
"Natural infection doesn't provide a ton of immunity for people over age 65 so I don't think we can rely on natural infection to get us to herd immunity together with the vaccine, we just need to get more people vaccinated," she said.
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Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a story published on June 17, 2021.