COLORADO SPRINGS — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave final approval for use of the first protein-based COVID-19 vaccine known as Novavax.

FILE – In this image provided by the Serum Institute of India, vials of freshly manufactured Novavax COVID-19 vaccines wait to be labeled in 2022, in Pune, India. The U.S. is getting another COVID-19 vaccine choice as the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, cleared Novavax shots for adults. (Serum Institute of India for Novavax via AP)

Novavax will be available for adults aged 18 and older as a two-dose primary COVID-19 vaccine series. The two doses should be separated by a period of three weeks.

Late-stage trials found that Novavax had a 90.4% efficacy against mild, moderate, and severe disease. While these trials were conducted prior to Omicron the vaccine reportedly shows a “broad” immune response to Omicron including its sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

Novavax is protein-based like other vaccines such as hepatitis B, HPV, pertussis and tetanus. It contains a small amount of spike protein taken directly from the COVID-19 virus.

Vaccines using protein subunits have been used for more than 30 years in the United States, beginning with the first licensed hepatitis B vaccine. Other protein subunit vaccines used in the United States today include those to protect against influenza and whooping cough (acellular pertussis).  

The newly approved vaccine contains an ingredient called an adjuvant, which boosts the immune system. The protein and the adjuvant work together to teach your immune system how to recognize and fight COVID-19.

Individuals who would rather receive a vaccine other than an mRNA-based vaccine may prefer Novavax. It may also be clinically recommended for those who cannot receive either Pfizer or Moderna.

Novavax has not been authorized for a third dose as a booster.

“Today, we have expanded the options available to adults in the U.S. by recommending another safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky. “If you have been waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine built on a different technology than those previously available, now is the time to join the millions of Americans who have been vaccinated.”

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 17: Medical testing equipment is shown in a lab at Auckland University on December 17, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today that the Government will purchase two new COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, meaning every New Zealander will be able to be vaccinated. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

“Getting vaccinated continues to be the easiest, most effective protection against serious illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19, and we are thrilled that Coloradans now have another vaccination option,” said Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer. “Some Coloradans have not yet had a single dose of the vaccine and we are hopeful that Novavax will appeal to many of them.”

Last week the federal government announced it secured 3.2 million doses of the Novavax vaccine but they are still finalizing details about when it will be widely available in Colorado. 

CDC says that vaccines are the safest, most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Vaccines also help avoid the worst outcomes (severe illness, hospitalization, and death) among those who do become infected. Staying up to date with all recommended doses is the best way to keep up protection for you, your loved ones and the community.

A complete list of more than 2,000 vaccine providers can be found on the CDC website as well as a list of weekly community vaccine clinics.