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Doctors hopeful FDA approval of Pfizer COVID vaccine will lead to more vaccinations in Houston

Houston's top doctors are hoping the approval leads to more people in the Houston area getting the shot.

HOUSTON — Monday marked a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 when the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. It's the strongest endorsement given by the FDA.

RELATED: FDA gives full approval to Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

It becomes the first COVID-19 drug to receive the FDA’s endorsement since shots began going in arms through emergency use authorization in December.

More than 200 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been given in the U.S. but there are still millions of people who remain unvaccinated.

RELATED: What changes now that FDA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?

Local health experts hope that the FDA’s approval will boost the public’s confidence in the shots as hospitalizations in Texas reach near-record levels.

The approval is being celebrated by health experts across the country and locally.

“It’s going to make some people more comfortable getting it ... knowing that the FDA reached a level of evidence that they require normally for safety and efficacy,” Dr. Luis Ostrosky, with UTHealth and UT Physicians, said.

Until now, the Pfizer vaccine only had emergency use authorization like all the others.

“There’s no question that this COVID vaccine has passed every test, every examination,” Dr. Jim Versalovic, interim pediatrician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, said.

Versalovic said the full FDA approval has only been granted for those 16 and older.

“For those 12 to 15 years of age we have the emergency use authorization still firmly in place,” Versalovic said. “It’s just a matter of time now before we get the FDA approval.”

Over at Houston Methodist, CEO Dr. Marc Boom said the FDA’s approval couldn’t have come at a more important time.

“We are in the midst of the worst surge we’ve seen. We’ve broken records of patients in the hospital six out of the last eight nights,” Boom said.

Houston Methodist was the first hospital system in the country to require all employees to get the shot. Boom said he expects more hospitals to do the same now that the FDA has signed off on the Pfizer vaccine.

RELATED: 153 Houston Methodist employees who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine have resigned or been fired

“I think you will see a tremendous number of hospitals now continue to follow suit and it will be the vast majority of hospitals before too long. Many were waiting for this point,” Boom said.

Doctors said they expect to see an uptick in the number of people getting the vaccine. They also hope parents will be more encouraged to take their eligible kids to get the vaccine as soon as possible.