Health Officials Hopeful Pfizer FDA Approval Will Increase Vaccination Rates in Riverside County

Kamari Esquerra

The Food and Drug Administration gave full approval for the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, calling it “a key achievement for public health.”

Assistant Director Riverside County of Department of Public Health Michael Osur says this may be a critical step toward getting more people vaccinated, and ultimately slowing down the spread of COVID-19.

“(The FDA approval) means (the Pfizer vaccine) meets all the criteria that any other vaccines have used, which is many, many in our system and in our world,” said Osur. “It’s fully approved, it’s totally safe, it’s deemed appropriate, and we’re hoping that it will get even more people vaccinated.”

Health officials also hope this will close the gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated. Across the country, unvaccinated individuals make up the majority of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19. That trend is also seen in Riverside County.

“If you’re unvaccinated, you’re 37x more likely to get COVID, than if you are vaccinated,” said Osur. “If you’re unvaccinated, the chances of you dying from COVID are 120x higher than if you are vaccinated.”

Riverside County health officials report that 91% of COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals, whereas vaccinated individuals make up 9% of cases. For deaths, that number increases to 97% for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals, while only 3% for those fully vaccinated.

“It’s still important to get vaccinated against COVID, because if you get the vaccine, even if you do get COVID, the chances of you being hospitalized are much reduced, and the chances of you being in the ICU or dying are almost nothing,” said Osur. 

Osur said the way to maximize your immunity against the virus is to get both shots.

“For Moderna and Pfizer, you need both doses to get to that 93-95% coverage, and that second dose is like a jump start,” said Osur. “It really gets your immune system revved up.”

In Riverside County, vaccination numbers are above the national average, but health officials say they could be better.


“Our vaccination numbers increased 7% last week so that’s good news,” said Osur. “For those 18 and older, 63.2% are partially vaccinated, and 54.6% are fully vaccinated.” 

The message remains the same.

“Everyone deserves a shot. It is important to get vaccinated- it’s the key to the health and safety of our communities. We all want to live a long and healthy life.” 

The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 and older. The vaccine is available for those ages 12 to 15 under FDA emergency use authorization. As of now, the FDA does not recommend that children under 12 get the vaccine.



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