DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine used to prevent the virus in people ages sixteen and older.

According to Dr. Karen Landers, the state’s population still sits around 36 percent for people who have gotten the vaccine. She hopes the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine will encourage those who have been waiting or scared to roll up their sleeves, to get their vaccine.

Dr. Landers said the FDA now fully approving the Pfizer vaccine for ages 16 and above can have an impact on vaccine hesitancy in Alabama. She said many people have been waiting for this stamp of approval before considering taking the shot.

“My hope is that Alabamians who have wanted to see this full approval can now be able to take this with an additional layer of confidence in the vaccine and go ahead and get vaccinated,” Landers said.

Landers said this is an additional layer of protection that people have been wanting. She wants to remind all Alabamians that there are plenty of vaccines available and encourages people who haven’t got their vaccine to go and do so now. Landers said this is the only way to lower numbers in our state.

“We see that positivity rate hovering in the mid-’20s or so, and we absolutely need more people to come in and get vaccinated because we have a lot of community transmission of COVID-19,” Landers said.

Landers said there are several pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals ready to give out the Pfizer vaccine to anyone ready. She does want people to understand all vaccines will help keep you healthy and out of the hospital.

“We consider Moderna and Johnson & Johnson comparable products in terms of safety, and of course the efficacy varies slightly with the Johnson & Johnson compared to the Moderna and the Pfizer, but they are still very good vaccines,” Landers.

Dr. Landers tells me the FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as the battle against this virus continues. She says people can be sure the Pfizer vaccine has been held to the highest standards for safety and effectiveness to get this approval.