Tulsa Health Department offering Novavax COVID-19 vaccine at all four locations

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Health Department now has the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine for adults ages 18 and up available at all four of its offices.

It’s been almost two weeks since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the use of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine. Their decision comes after the Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the two-dose vaccine.

Health officials in Tulsa hope adding another option to the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines will encourage more people to get vaccinated as the number of recorded COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma have increased almost 20-fold since the end of March according to Dr. Dale Bratzler, University Chief COVID-19 Officer for OU.

According to Bratzler, COVID-19 cases dropped to a low of 72-cases a day at the end of March; he said the most recent data last week indicated cases have increased up to 1,600 per week on average.

Health officials hope vaccine hesitancy may be offset by the introduction of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.

“With the Novavax, we are using technology that’s been used for over decades, at least 30 years or more and manufacturing vaccines that we use every day such as our seasonal flu vaccine and our Hepatitis B,” said Division Chief for Preventive Health Services at the Tulsa Health Department Priscilla Haynes.

The two-dose protein based COVID-19 vaccine, works differently than the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines.

“With Novavax, they use a different virus to create pure spike protein, spike protein is then purified, mixed with something called an Adjunvant, which just generate more immune response and is injected so you’re just getting spike protein,” Dr. Bratzler explained.

He added, “For anybody that was concerned about the RNA technology, this is virtually identical mechanism to one of the flu shots that’s been on the market for a number of years.”

With COVID-19 numbers rising, Haynes hopes that by adding this option, more people may be encouraged to get vaccinated.

FOX23 asked people we ran into on the streets of Tulsa for their thoughts on the addition of another COVID-19 vaccine in this regard.

“I think everybody that thought they were going to need it or got it have already gotten it,” said Kyle Wilson, “I don’t think anybody’s going to jump on some sort of new vaccine.”

“Maybe some of the older generations or some people who are mistrusting of the new vaccines, might find a better connection with the older ones, and actually trust it maybe able to allow themselves to get vaccinated,” Ash Dotolo remarked.

An FDA evaluation of available effectiveness data indicated that overall, the vaccine was 90.4% effective in preventing mild, moderate, or severe COVID-19. The Fact Sheet for Healthcare Vaccine Providers includes a warning that clinical trial data provide evidence for increased risks of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis which is inflammation of tissue surrounding the heart.

FOX23 asked Dr. Bratzler if this should be cause for concern.

“The risk is greatest from getting COVID-19,” he said, “If you get COVID-19 your risk of pericarditis or myocarditis is actually much higher than it is from getting the vaccine.”

He added that some known cases have occurred principally in younger men when they got vaccinated with both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines.

According to Dr. Bratzler, rarely did people have to be hospitalized and most cases were treated with non-steroidal drugs such as ibuprofen.

Dr. Bratzler added that right now in the U.S., more than 400 people a day are dying every day of COVID-19.

For more information on signing up for the vaccine, which is administered free of charge at any of the Tulsa County Health Department’s four locations, just click on the following link.