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Fairfax County plans for new Covid vaccine, as cases hold steady

A vaccinator at the Fairfax County Government Center’s COVID-19 vaccine site (via FCHD/YouTube)

A fourth vaccine has entered the fight against COVID-19.

The Gaithersburg-based company Novavax received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month for a two-dose vaccination designated for unvaccinated people 18 and older.

The Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County and cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, will get a portion of the 20,800 doses allocated to Virginia, the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed to FFXnow.

Supplies are expected to arrive in mid-August, the Virginia Department of Health said on Friday (July 22) after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the new vaccine its recommendation.

Novavax’s vaccine functions differently than the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines that have emerged as the favored options for inoculation against Covid over the past year.

“The Novavax vaccine contains a very small amount of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which elicits an immune response, in combination with an adjuvant, which boosts the immune system response to the vaccine,” VDH said. “…The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine offers an option to individuals who may have an allergic reaction to mRNA vaccines or who have a personal preference for receiving a vaccine other than one based on the mRNA technology.”

According to the FDA, trial data showed that the vaccine is 90.4% effective at preventing illness from the coronavirus.

Possible side effects included pain or tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, joint pain, nausea or vomiting, and fever. There was also evidence for increased risks of the same heart inflammation issues that have been reported with the mRNA vaccines.

The vaccine’s two doses will be delivered three weeks apart. It will only be available to people who haven’t gotten any shots yet, since it hasn’t been authorized for third or booster doses.

“When it becomes available, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to find an appointment for the Novavax vaccine,” the county health department said. “The vaccine will be free and available to everyone aged 18 years or older who is eligible.”

More than 1 million Fairfax Health District residents have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, including:

  • 92.7% of people 18 and older
  • 98.9% of 16-17 year olds
  • 95% of 12-15 year olds
  • 61% of 5-11 year olds
  • 8.7% of kids aged 6 months to 4 years old

About 76.9% of the district’s population is fully vaccinated, which translates to 910,685 residents, including 85.1% of adults.

Aside from the addition of the youngest age group, the county’s vaccine numbers haven’t changed since last Monday (July 18). The health department says it hasn’t gotten any data from VDH in the past week.

The VDH dashboard indicates that 87.5% of Fairfax County’s population has received at least one dose and 77.7% of residents are fully vaccinated.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of July 25, 2022 (via VDH)
All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of July 25, 2022 (via VDH)

With another 265 cases reported today (Monday), the district’s COVID-19 case numbers have stayed generally level since the beginning of June, its weekly average inching up from a low for this summer of 378 cases on June 19 to 403 cases today.

About one-fifth (20.3%) of all tests are coming back positive for COVID-19, as of Thursday (July 21), and hospitalizations remain up compared to this past spring.

According to CDC data, an estimated 71 county residents were admitted to a hospital for COVID-19 last week through Wednesday (July 20), a 12% drop from the previous seven days.

With a “medium” COVID-19 community level, the county is reporting 245.48 cases and six hospital admissions per 100,000 residents, and 4.5% of staffed, inpatient beds are occupied by Covid patients.

The Fairfax Health District has seen 225,518 cases, 4,757 hospitalizations, and 1,560 deaths during the pandemic.

Screenshot via Fairfax County Health Department/YouTube

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