The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization for the Novavax protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, making it the only non-mRNA option available in the country.
The vaccine is expected to be available at pharmacies and doctor’s offices nationwide in the coming days, according to a news release from Novavax. Anyone age 12 and older is eligible for the shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The announcement comes as hospitalizations due to the virus rise in the Charlotte area.
From Sept. 16-23, there were 90 COVID-related hospitalizations reported in Mecklenburg County, a 32% increase from the previous week, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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How is Novavax different from Moderna and Pfizer?
In the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that are already available, the mRNA delivers a blueprint for the body to make the protein used to fight the virus. The Novavax vaccine, on the other hand, already includes the protein that is used to protect against COVID, USA Today reported.
Previous vaccines also have a significant advantage when it comes to production.
Vaccines with mRNA take about six weeks to manufacture, while protein-based vaccines like Novavax’ take about four months to make, USA Today reported.
Can you get both types of vaccines?
Protein-based vaccines should be effective for those who have already received an mRNA-based shot, John Moore, a virologist at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medicine, told USA Today.
People who experienced negative side effects after mRNA shots may have less of a reaction after a protein-based shot, Moore said.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
According to Novavax, the most commonly reported side effects reported during clinical trials were:
The vaccine could also cause a severe allergic reaction within a few minutes to an hour after the shot, according to Novavax. Signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, swelling of face and throat, a fast heartbeat and dizziness.