Novavax available as alternative vaccine; Updated boosters available

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The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is an option for Airmen and families seeking an alternative to the already approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Novavax is a two-dose vaccine, administered 21-days apart, authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The nomenclature of this vaccine is very similar to vaccines most Airmen are familiar with or have already likely received,” said Lt. Col. Jill Roser, command public health officer, office of the command surgeon at Air Force Global Strike Command. “If you’ve had other DOD mandated vaccines, like hepatitis B for example, you’ve already been inoculated with something developed in a similar way as the Novavax vaccine.”

The need for vaccines and boosters is still relevant. COVID-19 cases are being reported across the country daily and a new variant, BA.5, has mutations that make it easier to spread. The CDC recently approved updated boosters for vaccinated and boosted individuals to protect against the latest mutations of COVID-19, known as BA.4 and BA.5.

Roser said the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron lineages are currently causing most cases and are predicted to circulate this fall and winter. The new vaccines are expected to provide increased protection against the currently circulating omicron variant.

              “While the newest variant, BA.5, isn’t any more or less dangerous than other COVID variants, it seems to be easier to spread,” said Roser. “Some people have had repeated infections with BA.5 after recovering from COVID-19, so vaccinations and boosters are still valuable protection.

"COVID has not gone away,” she said. “The new COVID-19 booster vaccines include a component of the original strain, to provide a broad immune response, and a common component between the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages to provide better protection against the omicron variant.” 

According to the CDC, COVID-19 primary series boosters are recommended for everyone eligible ages 5 years and older. The CDC says getting a COVID-19 vaccine after recovering from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19. Airmen and families who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters. More CDC specific recommendations for boosters is available here.

For anyone currently seeking a religious accommodation exemption, Novavax or any FDA approved or Emergency Use Authorization COVID-19 vaccine can be used to meet Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

No animal or human fetal-derived cell lines or tissue are used in the manufacturing, testing, or production of the Novavax vaccine, Roser says. 

Novavax is produced in insect cells, not mammalian cells.

“COVID is a living virus,” Roser said. “Like all living things, it has an instinct to evolve in order to survive. Vaccines and boosters help combat this virus and ensure we, and those closest to us, can continue to be protected as the benefits of any vaccine can wane over time.”

Novavax vaccines and boosters are available at Air Force Global Strike medical clinics. Contact your local clinic or your primary care physician for more information.