The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has announced the immediate availability of a free booster dose of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, following authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on October 19.

The booster dose is authorized for persons aged 18 years and older who, for medical or accessibility issues, cannot take one of the mRNA bivalent COVID-19 vaccines or who would not take a booster otherwise. The Novavax vaccine is based on a technology different from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

The Novavax booster vaccine may only be used as a first booster, meaning that anyone who has already had one or multiple booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and/or Moderna vaccines may not receive the Novavax booster at this time. It is to be administered at least six months after a person has completed a primary COVID-19 vaccine series.

The Novavax monovalent booster targets the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, while the bivalent boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna also target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant that emerged in the United States in November 2021. Novavax has a bivalent booster in testing.

Free vaccination opportunities may be found at Vaccinate.Virginia.gov. Information about all the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for administration in the U.S. is available at the VDH COVID-19 vaccine website. The Vaccinate Virginia Call Center is an additional source of information; call (877) VAX-IN-VA — (877)-829-4682 — Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information is available in English, Spanish and more than 100 other languages.