ATLANTA - The FDA gave its full approval for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, marking a major milestone in the coronavirus pandemic.
Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson's shots were all given emergency use authorization, but Pfizer is the first to get formal approval.
"The FDA has one of the strictest and most stringent review processes in the world. It's very highly respected for that, such that many countries just follow what the FDA says," said Dr. Colleen Kelley, an associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine.
In order to get approval, Pfizer submitted a 360,000-page application.
In addition to approving the vaccine, the FDA cited months of evidence to show serious side effects to the vaccine are very rare.
With the approval comes the hope that people who remain skeptical of the vaccine will choose to now roll up their sleeves and get the shot.
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 3 out of 10 unvaccinated people said they'd be more likely to get the shot if it has the FDA's approval.
Viral Solutions offers COVID 19 vaccines and testing at various locations in the metro Atlanta area.
One of the site managers says she believes the FDA approval is the boost of confidence some have been waiting for.
"People come in for testing and we ask if they are vaccinated. It's one of the questions that we ask. And they say ‘no, I’m just not sure about it. I'm not sure what's in it.' It was, you know, warp speed. It was just a little too fast. But I feel like now that the FDA has actually approved of this vaccine people will feel more confident," said Nicole Blanding, Viral Solutions site manager.
Meanwhile, the administration will require all members of the US military to get the vaccine.
Several public university systems, like Louisiana and Minnesota, have been waiting on the FDA's approval before mandating the shot
On Monday, President Biden encouraged others to do the same.
"Today, I'm calling on more companies in the private sector to step up their vaccine requirements that will reach millions of more people," President Biden said.
Despite the approval, the FDA warns the vaccine should not be used off-label for children under the age of 12.
Medical experts say the clinical trials underway are necessary to determine how to safely vaccinate children.
"What we need to do for children is to figure out what the right approach for them is. Their immune systems work a little bit differently than adults, their physiology is different. So we need to figure out the right dosage, the right intervals, and really the right type of overall approaches for them that might be different than with adults," said Dr. Aneesah Mehta, an associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine.
Moderna has applied for FDA approval and Johnson and Johnson said it hopes to do so later this year.
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