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Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available for 12 to 17 Year-Olds

Image of Air Force Staff. Sgt. fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Holweger, 86th Medical Group non-commissioned officer in charge of the Immunizations Clinic, prepares a vaccine at Ramstein Air Base Germany, Aug. 18, 2022. Holweger and the rest of his team at the immunizations Clinic on base are prepared to issue the Novavax vaccine to those interested.

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Adolescents ages 12 to 17 can now receive the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, the fourth vaccine to be authorized for the prevention of coronavirus.

Similar to other vaccines on the market, the vaccination regimen for Novavax calls for two doses three weeks apart. 

Military Health System parents who are interested in the Novavax option for their children should contact their provider to discuss this vaccination option and for availability of the vaccine. The vaccine may also be available through TRICARE in-network pharmacies or other participating pharmacies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccine on Aug. 22 for use in adolescents ages 12 to 17 after the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization (EUA) for its use in that same age group on Aug. 19.

An EUA means the product has not been fully approved by FDA but is available during public health emergencies because clinical data have shown it to be safe and effective.

Novavax Already Authorized for Those 18 and Older

The FDA previously authorized Novavax on July 13 for use against COVID-19 in those 18 years and older. The CDC recommended the vaccine on July 19 for that same age group.

The Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services secured 3.2 million doses of Novavax in June in advance of the decisions by the FDA and CDC.

Novavax is the Newest COVID-19 Vaccine

Novavax is the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to either get authorized or fully approved.

The FDA approved Pfizer and Moderna’s messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for primary doses. Those vaccines are also authorized for boosters.

Johnson & Johnson/Janssen’s one-dose modified adenovirus vaccine is still available in limited circumstances as a primary vaccine or booster for those 18 and older.

The CDC has a chart that shows you how your health provider should give each COVID-19 vaccine as a primary series or booster in different age groups and in those whose immune systems are weakened.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is not currently authorized as a booster dose for any age group.

Novavax said it has been studying how well its vaccine will work as a booster, “and the vaccine has been included in studies assessing mixing and matching different vaccines.”

How Novavax is Different

Novavax’s protein-based virus blocking technology is based on a more traditional platform than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines—the first mRNA vaccines to be allowed for use in the prevention of any infectious disease.

“The vaccine packages harmless proteins of the COVID-19 virus alongside another ingredient called an adjuvant that helps the immune system respond to the virus in the future,” the CDC explained. Protein-based vaccines have been used for more than 30 years in the United States.

“Novavax offers the latest tool to combat COVID-19, which means another option for military beneficiaries to get their COVID-19 vaccinations," said Air Force Lt. Col. Ruth Brenner, deputy chief of the Defense Health Agency Immunization Healthcare Division. "Because Novavax uses a vaccine platform that has been the basis of vaccines for 30 years, some beneficiaries may feel more comfortable using it for their protection against COVID-19."

Last May, the company started a large-scale clinical trial to test a booster that targets the Omicron variant. Novavax plans to speed up research on shots tailored to BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and it’s also working on a bivalent booster against the Omicron variant. Pfizer and Moderna expect their bivalent boosters against Omicron will be authorized soon.

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