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SAN DIEGO – Doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine billed as more traditional by the public health leaders soon will be available in San Diego County, officials said Thursday.

The protein-based Novavax vaccine was endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month with the agency clearing it as a two-dose primary series option for adults ages 18 and older. It is expected to be made available in the county as soon as this weekend, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s deputy public health officer, said in a statement.

“This is yet another vaccine we have to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially now that we’re seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations,” Kaiser said. “San Diegans now have another safe choice to prevent serious complications from COVID.”

The CDC said Novavax is “an important tool in the pandemic” because it provides a more familiar vaccine technology to combat the virus. Vaccines using protein subunits have been around in the U.S. for more than 30 years, including as part of the hepatitis B, whooping cough and influenza vaccines.

It has been assessed in three Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials, according to the World Health Organization. In two Phase 3 trials, researchers determined the efficacy of the vaccine is 90%.

Upon giving Novavax the go-ahead, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called it “another safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” adding that “now is the time” to join millions of others who are fully 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,” Walensky said.

To date, more than 2.65 million San Diegans are fully vaccinated and more than 3 million people aged 6 months and older have received at least one shot, county data shows.

In the time since the pandemic began, San Diego County has tallied some 881,000 infections, including 5,092 cases reported to the county this week. More than 5,400 San Diegans have died of COVID-19 with 22 additional deaths in the most recent report released July 21.

Of the most recent group of deaths, 14 were fully vaccinated and eight were not, according to the county.

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