On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine, the first vaccine available to the general public. The FDA’s approval includes a name change to Comirnaty (what official people call the Pfizer vaccine) and an age restriction to allow vaccination in individuals over the age of sixteen. Emergency approval is still in effect to allow individuals between the ages of twelve and fifteen to get vaccinated.

With the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine comes more concerns about vaccine mandates by schools, workplaces, and government agencies. According to a New York Times article on Aug. 30, there are several institutions that have already laid out vaccine mandates. Insiti the Pentagon, CVS, Disney World and several public school systems across the country.

Vaccine mandates have been enacted in school systems since the 1850s to prevent the spread of smallpox in children and young adults. It is the decision of the North Carolina Commission for Public Health to decide what vaccines will be required in the UNC public school system. Although they haven’t made a move to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine in colleges, FDA approval has made it more difficult for legal opposition.

Nubian Message went out to ask a few college students how they felt about the vaccine’s federal approval.

“Honestly I was already confident in the vaccine before full approval, so confident that Pfizer is the vaccine I chose to get in April. I am glad it’s fully approved because now they can officially require it for stubborn service members and people who refuse to abide by the mandates already in place,” replied Nyle Nwainokpor, a third year at Hampton University.

“I think that it’s a good thing. Out of all the vaccines, I trust the Pfizer one more. I got the Pfizer vaccine. Then Johnson and Johnson had that whole situation. Pfizer’s available different places and now people can get it and feel safe about getting it,” said Anne Johnson, a fourth year student in mathematics education at NC State University.

These feelings were also shared by Yvonne Mbugua, a first year Engineering student at NC State University, “since I’ve been fully vaccinated with Pfizer it’s nice to see that it’s the first FDA approved vaccine. It seems to give people who are reluctant to get the vaccine more confidence in getting it since it has been approved.

Kori Vernon, fourth year student at New York University had a unique take on what FDA approval means for vaccinations.

“Tattoos aren’t FDA-approved. There are a lot of people who have tattoos and are putting ink into their bodies that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA0. However, this vaccine is. We’re getting to a point where it provides another layer of reassurance for those people who are a little scared to get the vaccine before because it wasn’t FDA approved.”

It remains to be seen whether the FDA’s approval will change the rate of vaccination of our students. According to the university’s coronavirus website, 29,501 people have been vaccinated on campus or have uploaded their vaccination status to the HealthyPack portal. This information includes students, faculty and staff and was last updated on Aug. 26.

The university offers both the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines through the Student Health Center. You can continue to sign up for vaccination appointments through the university’s coronavirus website go.ncsu.edu/coronavirus.