Why Montgomery Co. officials are cheering the just-approved Novavax COVID-19 vaccines

Novavax, a biotech firm based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has been granted emergency FDA authorization for its version of a COVID-19 vaccine — and local officials hope it will encourage more people to get boosted against the latest COVID-19 variants.

At his weekly briefing with reporters, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said the Novavax vaccine is a protein-based vaccine, as opposed to the mRNA vaccines already on the market.

Noting concerns that some had about the speed with which the mRNA vaccines were developed, Elrich said, “This gives that group the opportunity to get a vaccine that they otherwise wouldn’t have taken.”

Elrich introduced Silvia Taylor, the executive vice president of Novavax, who told reporters, “Our next step is — now that we’re authorized and we have the recommendation from the CDC — we begin shipping in a matter of days” to outlets across the country.

During the online briefing, Sean O’Donnell, the Montgomery County Health and Human Services public health emergency preparedness manager, said the COVID-19 community level status remains at the “low” level — with 28.3 cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days.

O’Donnell urged the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and addressed what’s been characterized as an uneven rollout of the updated versions of existing vaccines from Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna.

“Have some patience,” O’Donnell said. “I know it can take a little while for this rollout to happen, but there should be vaccines for everyone, and we encourage people to get their shots before they start doing family gatherings.”

Elrich told reporters, “The important thing is, you get vaccinated, you keep yourself safe and you keep the people around you safe.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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