The Food and Drug Administration's Vaccine Advisory Board signed Pfizer's Covid vaccine by 17 votes to 4 with one abstention on Thursday evening. Dr. Archana Chatterjee, dean of Chicago Medical School, was one of the four no-votes. Chatterjee explained her decision during a Friday night interview on The News with Shepard Smith.
"I want to make it very clear that I fully support the approval of the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for adults ages 18 and older," said Chatterjee. "The no for me came because there was no opportunity to vote on this question."
Chatterjee told host Shepard Smith that the question put to the committee should include 16- and 17-year-olds. She said she believed the amount of data the panel had on the younger participants was very little and insufficient to make a determination for this participant population. Chatterjee added that because of her vote, she would wait for 16-year-olds to get the vaccine pending further data.
The vaccination progress follows the deadliest week of the coronavirus pandemic in the US to date. Speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "We are likely to have more deaths per day for the next 60 to 90 days than we had on September 11th or at Pearl Harbor. "According to Johns Hopkins, at least 293,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 in the United States.
Nationwide, more people with Covid-19 are being hospitalized than ever before. More than 107,000 were hospitalized with the virus on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. For context, this is the full capacity of Michigan Stadium, the largest stadium in the nation.
Chatterjee told Smith that she would get the vaccine "absolutely". "When it was my turn to be my priority risk group, I would be first," she said.
Chatterjee said her message to people who are afraid of getting the vaccine is that it is both safe and effective. Pfizer data showed the vaccine was 95% effective and had no serious side effects.
"There have been no major safety signals to give us a break not to recommend this vaccine for approval. So I would say the vaccine is safe, effective and will be one of the mechanisms by which we get out of this deadly pandemic." said Chatterjee said.