President Joe Biden on Monday urged business leaders to institute COVID-19 vaccine requirements, citing the Food and Drug Administration giving full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech shots earlier in the day.
“Today I’m calling on … the private sector to step up the vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people,” Biden said at a news conference.
“If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that,” he added. “Require it.”
The FDA had allowed distribution of three COVID-19 vaccines under an emergency use authorization since early December, but Monday marked the first time the agency has given any of those vaccines full-approval status after further assessing data on its efficacy and safety.
The decision is expected to pave the way for a wave of new vaccine mandates. Many institutions already had them in place, but some have said they were waiting until the FDA had granted one of the vaccines full approval.
“Do what I did last month: Require your employees to get vaccinated,” Biden said Monday, referencing his decision to require all federal workers to sign forms attesting they’ve been vaccinated or be subject to weekly testing, mandatory masking and social-distancing protocols.
Vaccine mandates have been a hotly debated subject. Many Republican lawmakers say they infringe on individuals freedoms; many Democrat legislators say they’re a reasonable policy to slow the spread of the pandemic, especially now that the Pfizer vaccine has full approval.