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FDA authorizes Novavax's updated Covid vaccine

The new shot is formulated to target the XBB.1.5 subvariant, just like the updated versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Healthcare Workers fills a syringe from a vial with the novavax vaccine
A health care worker prepares a dose of the Novavax vaccine at a pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pa., in August 2022.Hanah Beier / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an updated version of Novavax's Covid vaccine, allowing doses to begin shipping to doctors' offices and pharmacies across the country.

Anyone age 12 and older can get a dose of the new vaccine, regardless of whether they were previously vaccinated, the FDA said in a statement.

Just like Pfizer and Moderna's updated vaccines, Novavax's new shot is tailored to fight the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant, a close relative of the currently circulating strains. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, however, Novavax’s shot doesn’t use mRNA technology; instead, it relies on a protein-based technology to train the immune system to fight the virus that causes Covid.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the updated vaccines, including Novavax's. As of Sept. 27, more than 2 million people had gotten the updated vaccines, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The signoff comes as the Biden administration is encouraging vaccinations to combat a potential winter spike in Covid cases.

At the same time, people are being met with hurdles to getting the new vaccines, including unexpected insurance issues — even though the shots are supposed to be covered.

In a statement Tuesday, Novavax said it expects doses will be available in thousands of locations across the United States, including in pharmacies and physicians’ offices, sometime next week.

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