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The Pfizer vaccine is now FDA approved. Will that sway people to get it? Leaders hope so

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 10:29 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 4:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State and city officials hope the FDA approval of the Pfizer Vaccine could be a game-changer. But it will take time to see if vaccination numbers increase.

“I don’t know how many more people will get vaccinated,” said State Health Director, Dr. Libby Char. “I’m hoping that it’s a lot, but I don’t know the number.”

“Hopefully, they will come around,” said Honolulu Mayor, Rick Blangiardi.

The end of the emergency authorization lifts hurdles for mandatory vaccinations and gives peace of mind to some who have been hesitant, but with a third of the state still unvaccinated, FDA approval may not be enough to reach herd immunity.

“I guess we’ll be watching carefully about what an impact it has,” said Gov. David Ige.

Despite the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the union representing city bus workers are still planning on negotiating mandatory vaccinations with their employer.

“It’s basically, you know, the freedom of choice for them, and understand that they interact with passengers on a daily basis,” said Wayne Kaululaau, president of the Teamster, Local 996. “But I’ve never heard of a passenger or a bus operator, getting COVID while at work while on the bus.”

Kaululaau feels only a small percentage will get the vaccine following the announcement.

“I think my initial conversations with some of the members is that if the vaccine was approved by the FDA, they would get it,” said Kaululaau.

As COVID continues to ravage communities across the state, 884 businesses participated in a UHERO survey on mandatory vaccinations, majority of them were on Oahu.

80% of the business say over 80% of their employees are fully vaccinated.

Businesses with 50 or more workers have low vaccination rates.

Based on the results, UHERO recommends businesses adopt vaccination and regular testing for unvaccinated individuals.

“We’re actually hoping now with the Pfizer announcement that more businesses will actually follow because Hiro just said, you know, the statistics unfavorable,” said Blangiardi.

Nearly half of businesses surveyed said they oppose a vaccine passport for clients and customers. The governor says it’s still being considered.

“We do recognize that mandate impacts many in our community and to the extent that we can encourage action, you know, that would be preferable,” said Ige. “But we are prepared to mandate action if necessary when we get to the breaking point.”

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