New vaccine against COVID-19 – what do you need to know about it?

New vaccine against COVID-19 - what do you need to know about it?

The winter season has accustomed us to getting sick more often due to various viruses. For the past few years, COVID-19 has been listed among the seasonal illnesses. Although many of us are now not being tested for the coronavirus as often as we were at the beginning of the pandemic, and it might seem that the virus no longer has such potency, it can still be very dangerous.

The Ministry of Health, taking into account the current national and global situation regarding the incidence of coronavirus, has prepared a series of guidelines relating to the implementation of COVID-19 vaccination for PCPs and community pharmacies. As of December 6, we have the opportunity to vaccinate against the currently dominant XBB (Kraken) sub-variant. In our article, you’ll see how COVID-19 vaccination is currently going, who is recommended to receive the next booster dose, and where you can get vaccinated.

What vaccines are currently used in the implementation of vaccination?

The following vaccines are currently available for COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Comirnaty BA.4-5 mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 (Pfizer-BioNTech),
  • Comirnaty mRNA vaccine in doses for children Junior (0.6-4 years) and (5-11 years),
  • Spikevax BA.4-5 mRNA vaccine (Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.4-5) (Moderna),
  • Nuvaxovid subunit protein vaccine (from Novavax) updated under the currently dominant XBB.1.5 subvariant.

Newly available to patients at vaccination centers as of December 6, 2023 is a vaccine updated under subvariant XBB.1.5 (Kraken).

New vaccine against COVID-19 – what are its characteristics?

Monovalent mRNA vaccines targeting the XBB.1.5 sub-variant, commonly known as Kraken, have recently arrived. These are the protein subunit vaccines Nuvaxovid (from Novavax). Although XBB.1.5. is a subvariant of Omicron, and so the bivalent mRNA vaccines used so far also reduce the risk of COVID-19, we are getting an agent designed strictly to combat the currently dominant subvariant.

Novavax’s vaccine was approved for clinical practice by members of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in conditional mode in December 2021, which was subsequently changed to standard mode in July 2023. According to the Summary of Product Characteristics, it is intended for people who are at least 12 years old and at least six months have passed since their last vaccination. The formulation contains S protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus variant Omicron XBB.1.5 and an adjuvant (a plant saponin added to enhance the immune response).

The S protein is a surface antigen of the virus, capable of inducing an immune response without causing disease. It is recognized as a foreign antigen by cells of the immune system. The response includes both the formation of neutralizing antibodies and a cellular-type immune response. In the bodies of people who have the expected response to vaccination during contact with the pathogen, there will be a rapid and specific immune system response, reducing the risk of disease.

Read: Atypical symptoms of COVID-19 – what to look out for? Latest observations

Who should be vaccinated with the new COVID-19 vaccine?

The Minister of Health recommends that people receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine for subvariant XBB.1.5 as their next booster dose:

  • being 60 years of age or older;
  • having immunodeficiencies or or comorbidities that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 (applies to those 12 years of age or older);
  • working in health care who have direct contact with patients or infectious material.

According to the Summary of Product Characteristics, the new vaccine will also be available to others who are willing to be vaccinated and meet the age requirement (12 years of age or older), and it has been at least six months since their last vaccination. For those not previously vaccinated against COVID-19 over the age of 12, two doses should be given three weeks apart.

Can there be side effects from the new vaccine?

Like any drug, the new COVID vaccine can also cause adverse reactions (called NOPs, or adverse vaccine reactions), although not everyone will experience them. As with other vaccines, the patient may experience pain or discomfort at the injection site, or there may be redness and swelling at the site. These reactions usually resolve within a few days.

Very often (in more than one in ten people) after the administration of the vaccine, you may experience:

  • headache,
  • nausea (nausea) or vomiting,
  • muscle pain,
  • joint pain,
  • tenderness or pain at the injection site,
  • a feeling of severe fatigue,
  • general malaise.

Often (in up to one in ten people) may occur:

  • redness at the injection site,
  • swelling at the injection site,
  • fever (>38°C),
  • chills,
  • pain or discomfort in the hands, arms, legs and/or feet (limb pain).

Uncommon (in less than one in a hundred people) side effects may include:

  • enlargement of lymph nodes,
  • hypertension,
  • skin pruritus, rash or hives,
  • redness of the skin,
  • itching of the skin at the injection site.


The new vaccine for COVID-19, updated to the currently predominant variant of the XBB.1.5 virus commonly referred to as Kraken, is a response to the current global and domestic situation regarding the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Although its adoption is recommended in particular for health care workers, seniors and people with immune deficiencies or comorbidities, any other person who is at least 12 years old, has no contraindications, and it has been at least six months since their last vaccination can also be vaccinated.

It is worth remembering that there are other vaccines currently available for COVID-19 vaccination, which also reduce the risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If you have any doubts about getting vaccinated, it is worth asking a health care professional who will explain the current COVID-19 recommendations and outline the options available to combat the virus.

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