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Dr. Avula: Full FDA approval of COVID vaccines will be a 'game-changer'

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Posted at 6:48 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 18:48:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The expert who has been at the forefront of Virginia's COVID-19 vaccination campaign believes that vaccine mandates are the way to go. Dr. Danny Avula said that if every employer took that action, it could essentially wipe out the virus.

"We need as many people vaccinated as possible like this Delta variant is so contagious," Avula, the Health Director of the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts, said.

While strongly encouraged by health experts, for the last few months, getting a COVID-19 vaccine has been voluntary for most Virginians. But as new strands of the virus develop and spread, employees with the Commonwealth of Virginia, City of Richmond and numerous private companies are being mandated to get the vaccine. If not, they could face strict COVID-19 testing.

"I do think these employer-required vaccination efforts are going to move the needle," said Dr. Avula.

However, many of the moves requiring vaccinations are receiving some pushback.

One CBS 6 News viewer commented on our Facebook page, "I am so confused as to why freedom and the right to choose are being taken away."

"In the context of a global pandemic, where one individual's choices are affecting the health and well-being of their neighbors, there's sort of a misconstruing of what personal choice means and what it can result in," said Avula.

And another viewer wrote, "It should be people's decision" citing that the vaccine is not fully approved by the FDA yet.

"There's never been any vaccine that the FDA has approved that we've had more data around than this, and so I think people just need to keep hearing that," Avula said.

Still, some in the medical community are raising red flags about mandates. A group of nurses in Texas is protesting an order by their hospital to get the shot or lose their jobs.

"I'm not here to say you should get the vaccine or shouldn't get the vaccine but that you should have a choice," said Jennifer Cantu, a nurse in Arlington, Texas.

Meanwhile, Avula said people can expect to see more mandates once one or more of the vaccines receive full federal approval.

"We are probably just a few weeks away from the FDA fully licensing this vaccine, and that's going to be a game-changer as well because it will mean that even more employers will follow suit," said Avula.