SCDHEC – Unvaccinated can now receive new Novavax vaccine

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The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that they have officially approved the Novavax vaccine for use against COVID-19 for those ages 18 and up.

Novavax is the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and is unique in that uses protein technology rather than mRNA technology.

Following this federal announcement, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) provided notification to all of the state’s vaccine providers with information about Novavax’s current Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the vaccine to those 18 and older.
In approving Novavax for use, the United States joins 40 other countries, including Canada, who already have done so.

Currently, Novavax is only authorized to be administered as a two-shot primary sequence, not as a booster. That means only unvaccinated individuals can receive it. And while currently only available to those ages 18 and up, studies are underway to determine its usefulness in adolescents as well.

Novavax differs from previous vaccines in that it uses a traditional virus-blocking technology, one already widely used in vaccines used to prevent conditions such as shingles, the human papillomavirus and others.

The first doses of Novavax could begin arriving in South Carolina as early as next week, said Louis Eubank, DHEC’s COVID-19 director.

“This is one more tool we have to combat COVID-19 in South Carolina,” Eubank said. “It offers a vaccine alternative for those who may have chosen not to take the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.

“Novavax is a protein-based vaccine that works differently than mRNA vaccines, but is also highly effective. This vaccine is very similar to the childhood vaccines that most people take before enrolling in school, or the kind you take before traveling abroad. It has been used safely in 40 other countries and we expect it will benefit many here at home in South Carolina.”

As supplies allow, DHEC expects to have doses available at a limited number of health departments in the coming weeks. Find a vaccine location near you using DHEC’s Vaccine Locator at vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov.