Novavax vaccine

 

Updated 28 March 2022

The Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Programme will continue to use the Pfizer vaccine as its primary vaccine, and this has, to date, only been supplemented by the AstraZeneca vaccine which is available at a limited number of sites. Two doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine have been added to the schedule of approved vaccines for COVID-19 primary course protection to provided as an alternative to the Pfizer vaccine for people who are:

  • unable to be vaccinated with the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, especially those who are required to be vaccinated by the Vaccination Order or their employer; or
  • those hesitant to take an mRNA vaccine

Novavax bookings open

From Thursday, 10 March, people aged 18 and older can book an appointment to receive Novavax on BookMyVaccine.nz or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline at 0800 2829 26. 

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use by Medsafe for consumers 18 years or over, as a two-dose course and as such does not require a prescription.

A prescription is required for anyone receiving Novavax as a second dose, if their first dose was a COVID-19 vaccine other than Novavax. 

Novavax and who it’s for

  • The primary course of Novavax is two doses. It is recommended the second dose be administered three weeks after the first dose. 
  • Novavax has not filed an application to Medsafe for the approval to use it as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in New Zealand.
  • There is currently insufficient data on the Novavax vaccine to recommend it during pregnancy.
  • Novavax can be administered to people who have received a different COVID-19 vaccine as their first dose, and this should occur at least 28 days after the first dose of the other COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Novavax contains a non-infectious component on the surface of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which induces a protective immune response when the body’s immune cells come into contact with it.

Supporting: Side-effects/safety

  • The Novavax vaccine has been thoroughly assessed for safety by our own Medsafe experts. Medsafe only grants consent for using a vaccine in Aotearoa, once they’re satisfied it has met strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • As with any vaccine, you may have some temporary side effects after receiving the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. This is an indication that your body’s immune system is working. 
  • Common side effects after Novavax include injection site pain or tenderness; tiredness; headache; muscle or joint pain; generally feeling unwell. Most side effects are mild and go away within a few days.
  • Rare side effects after the administration of Novavax include severe allergic reaction (e.g.,   anaphylaxis). At this stage, information about other rare side effects is limited. This is because the vaccine has had limited take up around the world when compared with more popular vaccines. More information will become available over time and the Ministry continues to monitor emerging information.
  • People are observed for around 15 minutes post vaccination. Vaccinators are well-trained in managing reactions if they occur. 
  • As a precaution, it's recommended you do not have Novavax if you have had a severe allergic reaction (e.g anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the vaccine or to any component of the vaccine.

Frequently asked questions


When will Novavax be arriving in New Zealand?

An initial delivery of Novavax is scheduled to arrive in New Zealand this month (March) and officials are working to confirm when it will be available to the public.

Who is eligible for Novavax?

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is for adults aged 18 and over.

Is Novavax more effective than vaccines from Pfizer or AstraZeneca?

Clinical Trials have shown that all three of these vaccines are effective at helping prevent symptomatic COVID-19 infection.

How does the safety of Novavax compare to the Pfizer or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines?

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine has a similar safety profile to the other COVID-19 vaccines that Medsafe has approved. At this stage, information about rare side effects after the Novavax vaccine is limited because the vaccine has had limited take-up around the world. More information will become available over time and the Ministry continues to monitor emerging information.

How effective is Novavax against different COVID-19 strains, such as Omicron?

Laboratory tests suggest that Novavax has efficacy against the Omicron strain, but real-world data from people vaccinated with Novavax is not available yet.

Is Novavax suitable for pregnant people or someone trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding?

There is currently insufficient data on Novavax to recommend it during pregnancy. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the preferred option for someone who is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.

What are the side effects of Novavax?

As with any vaccine, you may have some temporary side effects after receiving Novavax. This shows your immune system is working. Common side effects after Novavax include:

  • injection site pain or tenderness
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle or joint pain
  • generally feeling unwell
  • nausea or vomiting.

Most side effects are mild and go away within a few days.

What about rare side effects?

There are some side effects that are more serious but rare, like a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. This is why people are observed for around 15 minutes post vaccination. Vaccinators are well-trained in managing these if they occur. We don’t yet know if there are any other rare side effects after Novavax vaccine. More information will be available over time and the Ministry continues to monitor emerging information.

Who shouldn’t have Novavax?

It's not recommended that you have Novavax if you have had:

  • a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the vaccine or to any component of the vaccine
How does Novavax work with other vaccinations?

Novavax may be administered before, after, or at the same time as the influenza, MMR, HPV, diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis combination vaccine (Boostrix), and other vaccines. The only exception to this advice is for the shingles vaccine (Zostavax) where a 7-day interval is advised before or after administering the Novavax vaccine.

Is Novavax suitable for people who are severely immunocompromised?

Studies are ongoing into the best use of Novavax in this group.

How does Novavax work with other vaccinations?

Novavax may be administered before, after, or at the same time as the influenza, MMR, HPV, diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis combination vaccine (Boostrix), and other vaccines. The only exception to this advice is for the shingles vaccine (Zostavax) where a 7-day interval is advised before or after administering the Novavax vaccine.

Is Novavax suitable for people who are severely immunocompromised?

Studies are ongoing into the best use of Novavax in this group.

How much demand do you think there will be for Novavax?

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine contains a copy of the SARS-COV-2 spike protein to teach your body how to recognise and fight COVID-19. The vaccine also includes a saponin-based adjuvant, which is an ingredient that helps the vaccine to create a robust immune response. Protein subunit vaccine technology has been used since the mid-1980s, initially to fight against hepatitis B then later for other illnesses such as influenza, pertussis (whooping cough), cholera, diphtheria, human papillomavirus, malaria, and meningococcal disease.

How is Novavax different from Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines already being used in New Zealand?

The three vaccines all work by training your immune system to recognise and fight the spike protein on the SARS-COV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, but they each use different technology.

  • The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine contains a copy of the SARS-COV-2 spike protein to teach your body how to recognise and fight COVID-19. The vaccine also includes a saponin-based adjuvant, which is an ingredient that helps the vaccine to create a robust immune response. Protein subunit vaccine technology has been used since the mid-1980s, initially to fight against hepatitis B then later for other illnesses such as influenza, pertussis (whooping cough), cholera, diphtheria, human papillomavirus, malaria, and meningococcal disease.
  • The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA) that is wrapped in a tiny bubble of fat. The mRNA codes for the SARS-COV-2 spike protein, which prompts your body to make copies of the spike proteins like those on the outside of the SARS-COV-2 virus. These copies then teach your immune system to recognise and fight the virus. mRNA vaccine technology has been in development for several years, to fight against disease like rabies and ebola.
  • AstraZeneca vaccine uses a harmless manufactured virus – called a viral vector – to deliver the spike protein into your body, which then teaches your body how to recognise and fight COVID-19. Viral vector vaccine technology has been used for many years, to fight against disease like ebola.
Is there a Novavax booster?

Novavax has not filed an application to Medsafe for the approval to use it as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in New Zealand.

Can I mix and match vaccines with Novavax?

Novavax can be administered to people who have received a different COVID-19 vaccine as their first dose, and this should occur at least 28 days after the first dose of the other COVID-19 vaccine. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in 38 countries, including Australia, European Union member states, Singapore and the United Kingdom as a primary course vaccine.