By LAURAN NEERGAARD and MATTHEW PERRONEBy CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, a milestone that may help lift public confidence in the shots as the nation battles the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech now carries the strongest endorsement from the Food and Drug Administration, which has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety. More than 200 million Pfizer doses already have been administered in the U.S. — and hundreds of millions more worldwide — since emergency use began in December.

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The U.S. becomes the first country to fully approve the shot, according to Pfizer, and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement he hoped the decision “will help increase confidence in our vaccine, as vaccination remains the best tool we have to help protect lives.”

Governor Larry Hogan released a statement following the FDA approval:

“We want to thank federal officials for authorizing full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, which is something we have been pushing for over the last several weeks. For people who are still hesitant about getting the vaccine, this is an assurance that it has met the most rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness.
“While this is an important step, full approval of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines is also vital to our efforts, and there are still a number of other areas where swift action is needed at the federal level to maximize our vaccination campaign.

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“Federal officials must make booster shots available immediately for seniors and vulnerable populations. The State of Maryland is already mobilizing for the utilization of boosters, and we cannot afford to wait until the fall to protect those we know are most vulnerable.

“We also continue to call on the federal government to expedite approval so that our 5- to 11-year-olds can begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Getting our children vaccinated is critical to giving parents greater peace of mind, but we are being told approval is still months away.
“Any further delay on boosters and expanding vaccine access could be devastating to our continued recovery from COVID-19. We look forward to working with the Biden administration on all of these issues.”

On Monday, Maryland reported that 80.1 percent of Marylanders have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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CBS Baltimore Staff