The Morning Dispatch: Hello, Comirnaty

Happy Tuesday! A quick correction before we get started. In yesterday’s Quick Hits, we wrote this: “Eighteen commercial aircraft will arrive in Kabul in the coming days to aid in the evacuation effort, the Pentagon said Sunday.” Commercial aircraft are assisting with the evacuation, but as the Pentagon statement we linked made clear, those planes are not flying into Kabul itself; rather, they are being used “for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases.” We apologize for the error.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Food and Drug Administration formally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 16 and over on Monday, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine to advance past the emergency use authorization in the United States. Regulators granted full approval to the vaccine after reviewing updated clinical trial data from Pfizer showing it to be 91 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 disease.

  • Shortly after full FDA approval was granted, several institutions implemented new—or stricter—vaccine mandates. New York City will now require every Department of Education employee in the city—from principals to custodians—to have at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by September 27, and the Pentagon reaffirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s earlier promise to mandate vaccines for service members “immediately upon” FDA licensure. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Department will provide an updated timeline “in the coming days.”

  • One day after President Joe Biden floated the possibility of extending his administration’s self-imposed August 31 deadline for completing evacuations out of Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesman told Sky News there “would be consequences” for doing so. “If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction,” he added. The Pentagon said Monday morning the U.S. military had transported just under 11,000 out of Afghanistan over the past 24 hours. 

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