The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced at its weekly press briefing on Thursday that children 12 and up will now be eligible for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization and the Centers for Disease Control followed suit by updating its guidelines for the vaccine.
Novavax differs from the previously mass-distributed mRNA vaccine and instead uses a method known as tech-protein subunit, the same method used for decades to make the Hepatitis-B, whooping cough, and other vaccines.
In addition to the expansion of Novavax’s eligibility, the Monkeypox vaccine’s eligibility has also expanded. Since Monkeypox patients are 98% male, 87% belonging to the LGBTQ community, eligibility was limited to males who were gay, bisexual, or transsexual and over the age of 18 who had multiple or anonymous sex partners within the past 14 days.
These requirements have now been expanded to any gay, bisexual, or transexual males who’ve had intimate or skin-to-skin contact with anyone at a large event or concert. Beyond this, vaccine eligibility has also been expanded to anyone of any gender or sexual orientation if they’ve engaged in commercial or transactional sex in the past 14 days.
Monkeypox cases are still rising, but have begun to decelerate. Currently over a third of cases in the state are in L.A. County. A month ago, cases were doubling in as little as eight days but this week that rate has lengthened.
“This may be an early indication that transmission is beginning to slow,” said Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the Health Department’s Disease Control Bureau. “Similar trends are being noted in countries where the outbreak first began and in other jurisdictions across the U.S.”
Filling in for Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, Dr. Muntu Davis briefed the press on the current status of COVID-19.
In the past week cases have dropped by 13% (3,100 cases per week) and test positivity rates have dropped (9%). However, death numbers have stagnated (13 per day) and daily hospitalizations have slightly increased (135 per day) after declining for two weeks.
Davis said these are mostly attributed to patients over 70 years old and that Public Health will “continue to monitor this closely.”
“The California Department of Public Health predicts continued decline in hospital admissions across the state and into late September,” said Davis. “And given the significant decline in most of our metrics we’re hopeful hospital admissions will continue to decline for L.A. County throughout the month, and that this recent uptick… is simply a transient uptick.”
Davis also said that Public Health hopes it will not be a continued trend.
Currently 100% of specimens sequenced belong to the Omicron variant.