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Hampton Roads health experts ready for new COVID-19 vaccine approval

Hampton Roads medical professionals said they are ready for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

NORFOLK, Va. — A fourth COVID-19 vaccine is awaiting approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be sent to medical staff across the country. 

This week, the Novavax vaccine got approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be used for adults. Some Hampton Roads medical experts said they are ready for this vaccine.

“Will the community embrace those that haven’t gotten the vaccine to this point? Will they embrace this vaccine? I think that’s where we need to focus a lot of our community education and outreach,” said Riverside Health System Chief Pharmacy Officer Cindy Williams.

The CDC is expected to review data on the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine before giving the green light.

Williams said the new vaccine is protein-based.

“What that means is it uses a technology that we’ve been using for years in the United States for other vaccines, so it may be a vaccine that folks are more familiar with,” said Williams.

Heath leaders across Hampton Roads said they are preparing for the approval and are making plans for how to distribute it once approved.

“Working with local providers throughout Chesapeake to establish if any interest exists and actually obtaining and using the vaccine, which we have seen some interest in thus far. So, we made preparations to have that vaccine distributed to those specific providers,” said Chesapeake Public Health Emergency Manager Jerry Tucker.

Williams said there is one major advantage with this COVID-19 vaccine that she thinks will help local pharmacies.

“It doesn’t require freezer storage, so this is a lot easier for local pharmacies to store. They don’t have to worry about having ultra-cold storage capabilities,” said Williams.

The Virginia Department of Health said the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Virginia once it's approved by the CDC. Williams said the CDC will have a meeting on July 19 to go over the vaccine.

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