New COVID-19 vaccine available for Lunenburg County residents

Published 3:42 pm Thursday, August 25, 2022

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VICTORIA – Lunenburg County residents now have a new tool in the fight against COVID-19.

The Novavax vaccine is the fourth to be authorized in the United States to help in the prevention of COVID. According to the Piedmont Health District Director, Dr. Maria Almond, Novavax is now available at all local health departments.

“We have now arrived at a place in which we have the necessary tools–including vaccine, testing, and early treatment if infected—to reduce severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” Dr. Almond said. “We are finding our way to living with this challenging virus. But we need to continue to reach for and use these means to protect our community. Novavax gives us one more very good option for protection.”

Where does it come from? 

With an uptick in COVID-19 cases recently reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a Maryland-based biotechnology company received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the new COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC gave its approval last month for administering the two-dose vaccine to adults aged 18 years and older. 

Novavax’s vaccine is the first protein-based COVID vaccine authorized in the U.S.

According to the company, its vaccine uses the same protein-based technology that is used in flu shots and could be the first time a more traditional vaccine is used to fight COVID-19.

It is different than the mRNA technology that Pfizer and Moderna use.

How is this COVID-19 vaccine different?

Novavax contains an inactive protein that a person’s body believes is the coronavirus. Basically, the vaccine will trick a person’s body into producing antibodies that protect the individual, precisely the same as the vaccine for influenza.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is designed and manufactured differently than the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. 

The Novavax vaccine contains a very small amount of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which elicits an immune response, combined with an adjuvant, which boosts the immune system response to the vaccine. 

FDA-approved protein-based vaccines have been used widely for decades; examples of more recently approved vaccines that contain a purified protein combined with adjuvant include vaccines to prevent hepatitis B and whooping cough.

According to the CDC, Novavax offers a strong alternative for those who may have an allergic reaction to any component of the mRNA vaccine or have a personal preference for a vaccine not based on the mRNA technology.

According to a news release from Novavax Inc, the FDA emergency use authorization was based on data from a clinical trial called PREVENT-19, which enrolled about 30,000 participants aged 18 years and over in the U.S. and Mexico.

Asking residents to reconsider

In the trial, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated 90.4% efficacy among participants 18 through 64 years of age.

“Patients and providers in the U.S. now have access to a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine backed by data that have demonstrated efficacy, safety, and tolerability,” said Karen Kotloff, M.D., professor of pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, associate director of Clinical Studies at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, COVID-19 Prevention Network co-lead for the PREVENT-19 trial. “Offering more vaccine technologies and options in our vaccination portfolio, including those built upon technologies that have been successfully used for years, will hopefully help to increase our country’s vaccination rate.”

The CDC estimates that between 26 million and 37 million adults haven’t gotten a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. For local residents in that group, state officials ask that you reconsider. 

“If you’re in that group and have been waiting for a vaccine based on a different technology than those available now, we urge you to consider (this),” said Virginia’s State Vaccination Coordinator and Director of the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Immunization Christy Gray, MPH.