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What Will Full FDA Approval Of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Mean For Vaccine Hesitancy, And Mandates, In Chicago?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine came from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

It came more than eight months after the FDA gave the drug authorization for emergency use.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey checked in with some local vaccine outreach groups to see what this announcement could mean for vaccine hesitancy in Chicago - and what it could mean for potential vaccine mandates.

Cheron Massonburg with the East Garfield Park nonprofit Breakthrough said they're still doing damage control from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause in the spring.

"After that, folks were like, 'Yeah, I'm not interested in being vaccinated,'" Massonburg said. "They don't know what going to happen: 'I don't want to turn into a zombie.'"

Breakthrough has been working to educate the community about the vaccine for months. The 60624 ZIP code, which includes East Garfield Park, is just 36 percent vaccinated - according to the latest city data.

The staffers at the nonprofit are crossing their fingers that Monday's Pfizer approval news will send community members lining up for shots, it is not expected to be right away.

Massonburg: "The hope is that they will."

Hickey: "Being realistic, though, do you think it will happen right away?"

Massonburg: "I do not foresee it happening right away. I do think though, as a community resident and a parent myself, it has definitely impacted the way that I will be able to talk about it to other people."

Pastor Autry Phillips, executive director of the Target Area Development Corp. is also skeptical about whether full FDA approval will do much to change people's minds.

"Most have not, in general, have not made the distinction between a Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J," Autry said.

His group has had to shift some of their anti-violence attention toward vaccine education during the pandemic.

"I believe that it's going to change the minds of our people. I believe that is going to change some," Phillips said, "but again, I believe the biggest issue here, again, is education."

While coming around on the vaccine might take more time, Dr. Sadiya Khan with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said formal approval will allow more institutions such as companies, schools, and the military to mandate the shots.

"I think institutional and policy mandates around vaccines may be able to be supported, now that there is full approval," Khan said.

Breakthrough is urging residents still on the fence to come out next week when they host a vaccine bus at their facility in East Garfield Park on Saturday, Aug. 28, 9 a.m. to 12 noon. For more details, click this link.

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