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Got Questions About the FDA Approval of the Pfizer Shot? So Did We. So We Asked AdventHealth's Dr. Smith

Photo: Steven R. Smith
Photo: Steven R. Smith

The FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine, but what does it mean for local Central Floridians including children and pregnant people?  

WMFE put those questions to AdventHealth’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Steven R. Smith. 

Read the full interview below.

Danielle: So with the FDA fully approving the Pfizer vaccine, do you think we're gonna see more businesses in this area mandate the vaccines for their employees?

Dr. Smith: Let's talk just for a minute about what this means for us as a healthcare system. We have continually been urging our employees to get vaccinated, we care deeply about our patients, our employees and our community. And this is just part of that process to to really say safe and effective. Please go out and get your vaccine. Don't hesitate, because you don't have enough data. There's a lot of data in here and a lot that we do know now that encourages us.

Danielle: Will AdventHealth mandate vaccines for doctors and nurses, then?

Dr. Smith: I do believe that this will make people more comfortable. We are actively in discussions here at AdventHealth. On what this means for our health and safety program. We already require the flu vaccine for our employees, that's an important part of keeping our patients safe and keeping our employees safe. So we're under active discussion. Stay tuned for that one.

Danielle: So does this FDA approval mean anything for kids? Will these shots become kind of regular, you know, childhood immunizations?

Dr. Smith: Well, maybe maybe not. We're not sure about the safety of these, this vaccine or any of the other vaccines in children. It's going to take time. Those studies in children started much later than we started the studies in adults who it will take some time. And let's look at the data when it comes out. And it may support that, it may not support that concept. Right now, we just don't have the data. Those are studies that are ongoing, they'll be ongoing for many years, it's going to take longer in the pediatric population to establish safety. Children are not just small, big people, and their immune systems are different. Their development, their hormones are different. There's so many difference differences between children and adults. It's going to take some time on this one, Danielle. It's not going to be an answer we're going to have very soon.

Danielle: And what about for pregnant women and women who plan on becoming pregnant? Does this approval mean that it is safer for them to get the shots?

Dr. Smith: So the FDA was very clear that there's not sufficient data for or against, in pregnant women to be able to say yes, either during pregnancy, or, you know, there's just not enough data right now to be able to compel vaccination of pregnant women from the FDA's viewpoint. What we can say is that there's no data to suggest that there's an impairment in fertility, future fertility. There's just no data. That is completely conjecture at this point in time.

Danielle: You know, Dr. Smith overall, do you think we're going to continue to see that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated and what would your message be to those folks who still haven't gotten the shot?

Dr. Smith: Well, the majority of our hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. And then there are others who have other health conditions that are in our hospitals who are suffering from acute COVID syndrome and we are actively watching this but the main reason that people end up being hospitalized in 2021 in August, September, and I predict into October are going to be those who are not vaccinated.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.