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Novavax COVID-19 Vaccinations Now Available for Service Members

The Defense Department is now offering Novavax as an option for COVID-19 vaccinations.

A service member administers an injection into someone's arm.
Vaccination Time
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Casassa, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford, administers a COVID-19 vaccine at the McCormick Gym at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., April 8, 2021. The Defense Logistics Agency has been packing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines to Defense Department employees and families outside the continental United States and to deployed sailors in the U.S. Navy fleet.
Photo By: Navy Seaman Jackson Adkins
VIRIN: 210408-N-TL968-1078C

On August 19, the Food and Drug Administration updated their July 13 Emergency Use Authorization for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine to include individuals 12 years of age and older. 

"We now have a range of COVID-19 vaccines available at our military medical treatment facilities, and they all provide strong protection against hospitalization, severe illness and death," Dr. Michael Malanoski, deputy director of the Defense Health Agency, said.  

Other vaccines that DOD offers or has offered are those from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. 

Unvaccinated service members can indicate their preference of which vaccine they'd like, Malanoski said. "If they'd like to be vaccinated with Novavax, and it's not immediately available, we'll make sure the service member can be vaccinated with the Novavax vaccine within a few days." 

The Novavax vaccine uses technology that has been used in other vaccines required by the military.  

An illustration depicts a virus being torn apart in a sky.
The Defense Department is authorizing the use of Novavax COVID-19 vaccinations for service members, Aug. 26, 2022. This image was cropped from artwork used to promote the 87th Medical Group during COVID-19 operations on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Austin Knox
VIRIN: 210121-F-YS647-1007

Novavax is not authorized for use as a booster dose at this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Although all [COVID-19] vaccines teach our immune system to recognize the spike protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Novavax is unique compared to other available COVID-19 vaccines in that it is a protein subunit vaccine," Air Force Col. Tonya Rans, chief of the Immunization Healthcare Division at the Defense Health Agency, said.

"Protein subunit vaccines are a traditional platform of vaccines and have been used for decades to prevent disease," she added. "Examples of vaccines which use this platform include the current shingles [Zoster] vaccine, Hepatitis B, and [HPV] vaccine. The platform used by Novavax does not use mRNA or DNA technology and does not enter the nucleus of cells," she added. 

Novavax was well tolerated in clinical studies, with the most common side effects being injection-site tenderness, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue of short duration.

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