How it works, expect side effects

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Wake and Durham counties are now offering the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. This comes after the FDA and CDC finally gave the vaccine the green light for use.

The vaccine is a two-dose regimen approved for people aged 18 and over. As with the currently approved vaccines, the doses will be given three weeks apart. No booster doses have been approved for Novavax.

Clinical studies show it was 90 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease.

How it works

The Novavax shot works differently than the widely used Pfizer and Moderna shots.

“There are different ways to develop a vaccine,” said Dr. Cinday Gay, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Infectious Diseases at UNC School of Medicine, in an informational video about the vaccine.

Gay was involved in clinical trials for the vaccines at UNC.

Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA-based vaccines. This new type of vaccine gives cells instructions to teach them how to respond to and fight off COVID-19 infection.

Gay said the Novavax vaccine is a protein-based vaccine — a much more traditional vaccine. According to Gay, there are several protein-based vaccines that have been approved and used for various infections in the United States for decades.

“In this vaccine strategy, the vaccine itself provides the piece of the COVID-19 virus that we want to elicit the immune response. So it’s the same spike protein that produces a response in the other COVID-19 vaccines, but in this case it’s given directly as a vaccine,” Gay explained.

The vaccine has already been used in other countries. According to Gay, one of the key benefits of this vaccine is that unlike the other COVID vaccines used in the United States, Novavax vaccines do not require freezing. This facilitates delivery and storage in rural or resource-poor countries or cities.

“In many ways, it makes it a much more accessible vaccine once it becomes more widely available, including in the United States, which has a lot of rural, semi-rural settings,” Gay said.

side effects

As with any vaccine, side effects are to be expected with the Novavax vaccines. According to FDA documents, side effects were more common after the second dose.

The most commonly reported side effects in study participants aged 18 to 64 were:

  • Pain/tenderness at injection site (82.2%)
  • Fatigue (62.0%)
  • Headache (52.9%)
  • Muscle pain (54.1%)

In study participants over 65 years of age, the most common side effects were:

  • Pain/tenderness at injection site (63.4%)
  • Fatigue (39.2%)
  • Headache (29.2%)
  • Muscle pain (30.2%)

FDA documents show that most side effects were mild to moderate and lasted up to three days. How it works, expect side effects

Dais Johnston

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