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What you need to know about Novavax

July 22, 2022

Wellness During COVID-19 Primary Care
young adult male getting vaccine

On July 19, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorized the emergency use of Novavax, a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, as another primary series option for adults ages 18 years and older. In this Q&A with Cindy Williams, Chief Pharmacy Officer for Riverside, we learn more about Novavax and its approval as the fourth COVID-19 vaccine available in the United States. 

Tell us about Novavax. What makes this vaccine unique from other COVID-19 vaccines?

On July 19, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) authorized the use of another COVID-19 vaccine from Novavax. The Novavax vaccine is a two dose primary series for those 18 years of age and older that have not yet been vaccinated. We do anticipate that there will be booster dose developed over time and perhaps even expansion to other age groups.

What makes this vaccine different is that it is based on a different vaccine technology. It's a protein-based vaccine. Protein based vaccines have been used in the United States for over 30 years. Novavax may be an option for those individuals that have not yet been vaccinated because they were concerned about the messenger RNA technology.

What other vaccines have been built the same way as Novavax?

When we think about other vaccines that have used the protein-based formulations, some of those that have been used for a number of years include hepatitis B. That was the first vaccine developed over 30 years ago. We also use that technology for flu vaccine and some of the childhood vaccinations, such as whooping cough.

What do we know about the side effects of this vaccine?

The side effects of this vaccine are very similar to what we see with other protein-based vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine or other COVID 19 vaccines. The most common things that you may see would be pain at the injection site, perhaps a little bit of fatigue. The day after you get the injection, you may have a mild headache, mild fever and some mild joint and muscle pain.

Novavax was a part of Operation Warp Speed. Why did this vaccine take longer to be approved?

Novavax was a part of the original Operation Warp Speed, and Novavax has been available in other parts of the world for some period of time. But when Novavax got ready to launch in the United States, there were some manufacturing capacity concerns and Novavax wanted to make sure that they had the full capacity to support what the United States needed, hence why they waited until earlier this spring to present information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization.

Will Riverside be offering the Novavax vaccine? If so, can you tell us when.

Riverside is currently working with Virginia Department of Health (VDH) on when the Novavax vaccine will be available for us to order. We know the United States has purchased doses of this vaccine, so like other COVID 19 vaccines, it will be provided free of charge as soon as it is available. 

Riverside does intend to offer this vaccine both to team members that perhaps have not yet been vaccinated because of a medical or religious exemption due to messenger RNA vaccines or at community-based clinics.

Be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist familiar with your health history to determine which COVID-19 vaccine is right for you. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines available and how to schedule your vaccine appointment with Riverside.  

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