President Joe Biden is urging private companies to require their employees to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after it was fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). During a press conference at the White House on Monday (Aug. 23), Biden said he wants companies to “step up the vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people.”
“If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting on full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that,” the president said. “Require it.” Biden also called the FDA approval the “gold standard” and said it was an “important moment in our fight against the pandemic.”
Under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, private businesses are allowed to require vaccinations. “The moment you’ve been waiting for is here. It’s time for you to go get your vaccination,” he said.
Earlier Monday, the FDA granted full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to increase vaccinations and create more mandates across the country. The vaccine is now fully approved to be used by people who are 16 and older. People who are between the ages of 12 and 15 years old can still receive the vaccine under emergency use.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”
John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, announced on Monday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was “prepared to issue updated guidance requiring all service members to be vaccinated.”
“These efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force, not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live,” he said. A timeline for when all service members will have to receive the shot will be announced in the next few days.