Coronavirus: CDC director signs off on Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended the use of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine in adults aged 18 and older just hours after an influential advisory panel gave the shots the green light.

>> Read more trending news

Update 12:42 a.m. EDT July 20: In a statement released Tuesday evening, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed an earlier recommendation made by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

“Today, we have expanded the options available to adults in the U.S. by recommending another safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” Walensky said in a statement. “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. With COVID-19 cases on the rise again across parts of the country, vaccination is critical to help protect against the complications of severe COVID-19 disease.”

Novavax’s vaccine uses more traditional protein subunit technology, the CDC said in a news release.

“Protein subunit vaccines package harmless proteins of the COVID-19 virus alongside another ingredient called an adjuvant that helps the immune system respond to the virus in the future,” the release said. “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.”

Original report: An influential Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel on Tuesday voted to recommend the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Maryland-based biotechnology company Novavax for people aged 18 and older.

The unanimous vote brings the country one step closer to having a fourth vaccine available to protect adults against COVID-19. Already available are vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, will have to accept the recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices before the Novavax vaccine is made available in the U.S.

The committee’s decision Tuesday comes nearly one week after the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the two-dose vaccine.

As of Wednesday, the most recent date for which data was available, more than 78% of the U.S. population has gotten at least one dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just over 67% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and more than 48% of those who have been fully vaccinated have gotten at least one booster shot, CDC data shows.

Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 89 million infections nationwide, resulting in over 1 million deaths, according to the CDC.