San Diego County residents will be able to get the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine as soon as this weekend, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Friday.
Novavax, in use in other countries, is a more "traditional" vaccine, developed using protein-based technology, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been using for decades to treat diseases such as hepatitis B, shingles and human papillomavirus. The vaccine presents a specific portion of the virus which the body generates immunity against.
Dr. Ankita Kadakia, deputy public health officer for the county of San Diego, hopes the trusted method will encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“I think that could give individuals who might be hesitant about receiving a coronavirus vaccine the understanding that this is not new technology," Kadakia said. "They may have already received this type of vaccine before.”
Novavax has been authorized as a two-dose primary series, given three to eight weeks apart, to people ages 18 and older. Clinical trials showed that the vaccine is 90% effective at preventing mild, moderate and severe COVID-19.
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"This is yet another vaccine we have to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially now that we're seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, county deputy public health officer. "San Diegans now have another safe choice to prevent serious complications from COVID."
According to the HHSA, clinical trials showed Novavax does not cause severe side-effects. Reactions were mild and like those rare effects seen from COVID-19 vaccines using the mRNA technology, such as pain, tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site.
Novavax is expected to be available at local healthcare providers, retail pharmacies, community clinics and County public health centers and community vaccination events.
The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in San Diego County increased by 13 to 450, but even that number has dropped by 15 since last week, according to the data released by the state Thursday.
Come this fall, when a new updated booster reformulated to target the dominant omicron subvarients is released, there will be even more options for COVID protection.
"I think it’s great news that we are going to have more protection against the variants," Kadakia said. "We know that currently looking at our wastewater testing data — we are seeing an increase in coronavirus infections."
NBC 7 asked if those who has yet to get a booster should wait for new booster.
“No, I would absolutely recommend that if you haven’t gotten a booster, then you should go ahead, get a booster," Kadakia said. "Because we do have data to show that individuals who have been fully vaccinated and have received a booster are less likely to develop complications or severe disease in coronavirus."
Boosters have helped decrease hospitalizations, something the medical community is watching closely.
As of July 27 county data shows an 8% in hospitalizations, up to a total of 464. Forty-eight of those are patients in intensive cre.
“All of these vaccines, regardless, have been able to help keep our hospitalization rates down and help prevent severe illness and even death,” Kadakia said.
Local experts with Scripps Research told NBC7 that the current levels of community spread are almost half as high as the omicron wave that peaked in January. As of right now, only people 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised have been authorized for a second booster of the original version.
There's still no word on the eligibility or specific rollout for the reformulated version being released in September.
As recently as Monday, 465 people in the county were hospitalized with COVID-19 — the most since late February.