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New COVID-19 vaccine to be available in Virginia as early as next month

There is a new COVID-19 vaccine on the market. A CDC panel approved Novavax for adults.

RICHMOND, Va. — There’s a new vaccine on the market that uses old technology.

Health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have signed off on the Novavax vaccine for adults. 

Novavax is a two-dose shot, given three weeks apart. This vaccine is different than the mRNA technology in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Novavax is also different from the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which contains a piece of modified virus that doesn’t infect you.

Chesapeake Health Department's Public Health Emergency Manager Jerry Tucker explained the Novavax shot uses a particle of the virus spike protein along with an adjuvant (something that stimulates an immune response.)

“The Novavax vaccine is actually older technology. We’ve used it for years for vaccines like hepatitis B and shingles,” Tucker said.

He said it's a good choice for people who may be vaccine-hesitant because of the new technology found in the first two COVID shots. Health experts have used the technology behind Novavax for decades.

“Parts of our population are somewhat vaccine-hesitant towards Pfizer and Moderna, those both being newer technology vaccines," Tucker said. "So, this will give our population something that’s a little more old hat. Something they can be comfortable with.”

Dr. Brooke Rossheim from the Virginia Department of Health said this shot is a good option for the rare group of people who had adverse reactions to the mRNA technology found in Pfizer and Moderna.

"There may be some people who legitimately cannot take one of the mRNA vaccines. For example, they may have had a dose of an mRNA vaccine and had a bad reaction," Rossheim said.

Dr. Rossheim stressed that mRNA vaccines are still proven effective; healthcare workers administered millions of doses worldwide without widespread safety issues. But it’s still good to have another option on the market, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise.

“Cases are going up, hospitalizations are going up," he said. "“If there are people out there who either don’t want to take an mRNA vaccine because it concerns them, the technology, or they’re unable to take an mRNA vaccine because of medical contraindication. This is a good thing. This gives them an option now that’s been studied. You’ve got all the regulatory approval.”

VDH data shows people are still interested in getting the vaccine; the state health department is tracking almost seven thousand doses given every day.

Tucker said as COVID cases climb, more people are showing up to get vaccinated.

“That’s increased a little bit here recently because of the rise in case," Tucker said.

The VDH expects Novavax to be available in Virginia by late August or early September.

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