The rising Covid-19 cases due to Omicron sub-variants has led to widespread concern regarding people’s well-being. Therefore, we must gather adequate information about vaccination and booster doses like Nuvaxovid (Novavax). Moreover, the vaccine is available in Australia as a primary course for people aged 12 years and above.
On 20th January 2022, TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) gave provisional approval to Novavax as a primary course. Then, on 9th June 2022, the agency approved the vaccine as a booster shot.
Explain the dosing schedule
Primary Course Details
TGA has provided guidelines stating that most people can get two doses of Novavax’s Primary course eight weeks apart from each other. However, people with pre-existing medical conditions and people planning for international travel must consider shorter dose intervals of three weeks. At the same time, it takes seven to fourteen days after the second dose to get full protection against Covid-19.
And Doctors and medical specialists suggest severely immunocompromised people get a third dose which would be a part of their primary course. Besides, immunity providers can use Novavax as a third dose which they should typically administer after the primary course’s second dose.
Severely immunocompromised people should read about the third dose and find relevant information.
Novavax as a booster dose
Immunisation providers and doctors can administer Novavax as a booster dose for people aged 18 and above; they should give it three months or more following the primary course. Meanwhile, ATAGI suggests some people get a second booster dose( fourth dose) three months after they get the first booster dose.
Although mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) are the preferable Covid-19 booster doses, doctors can use Novavax as a booster shot too for a:
- People who have encountered contraindications to mRNA vaccines. Moreover, this particular group includes people who faced severe adverse incidents after getting mRNA vaccines like anaphylaxis or myocarditis due to mRNA vaccines.
- People who prefer alternative vaccines.
You can find out more about booster doses.
If you have had Covid-19, wait three months after the confirmed infection to get the vaccination.
What is in the Novavax Vaccine?
Researchers have pointed out Novavax as a protein-based vaccine that contains a part of the coronavirus spike protein. So, our immune system cells recognise the spike protein as a threat and build an immune response against it. Moreover, the vaccine contains an ingredient known as Matrix-M adjuvant that enhances the immune response to the vaccine.
However, it does not contain a live virus; hence, it cannot give us Covid-19. However, you can clarify your doubts regarding the Moderna vaccine’s composition; you can read the Nuvaxovid (Novavax) Consumer Medicine Information document.
What are the benefits of Novavax vaccination?
Novavax vaccine provides optimum protection against Covid-19, and its benefits exceed the potential side effects or reactions. Also, three clinical trials indicate that Novavax effectively prevents Covid-19 for people aged 12 and above. Consequently, people who had Novovax’s two doses were eighty to ninety percent less likely to face Covid-19 symptoms than people who did not get vaccinated.
Also, the Novavax vaccine is appropriate for people above 65 years and for those who have pre-existing medical conditions.
What are the common side effects of Novavax?
Novavax has been administered to thousands of people, relatively less in number compared to other Covid-19 vaccines. However, as customary with other vaccines, TGA continues to monitor the Novavax vaccine and its side effects. Besides, you may encounter some temporary common side effects such as:
- Pain, tenderness and swelling on the injection site.
- Fever and chills
- Muscle or Joint pain
People may encounter some less common side effects, such as:
- Enlarged Nymph nodes
- Feeling unwell
- Arm or leg pain
- Itching at the injection site
- Redness at the injection site.
What are some rare side effects that people may encounter?
Heart-related diseases, myocarditis and pericarditis and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) are a few rare side effects of Novavax. Besides, a relatively small number of people have received the Novavax vaccine, so doctors are unaware of the occurrence of any other side effects.
Also, the TGA and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) continue to monitor the vaccine’s impact and effects. Hence, people will receive information and updates with time.
Myocarditis and Pericarditis
Heart-related diseases such as Myocarditis and Pericarditis can occur after getting the Novavax vaccine. Also, researchers have reported such cases during clinical trials and post-licensure vaccine use in Australia. And rare heart-related reactions happen:
- Within one to five days of vaccination
- Mostly after people have the second dose
- It occurs more in men under 40 years
Sometimes the side effects can happen to all people regardless of gender, age, and after any dose. Therefore, you need to contact the doctor or visit the nearest hospital if you encounter the following symptoms after taking the Novavax vaccine:
- chest pain
- pressure or discomfort in the chest
- irregular skipped heartbeats or ‘fluttering.’
- shortness of breath
- pain when breathing
However, the chances of developing above mentioned heart-related diseases are low. For instance, TGA reported only three myocarditis cases and twelve pericarditis cases from 160,000 administered doses. However, the small number of globally distributed doses does not accurately estimate the current rate.
Thankfully, you can find relevant guidance on myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for providers. Also, please read about it on the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre page on myocarditis and pericarditis.
Novavax’s use in particular groups of people
People who have been suffering from particular conditions need to follow extra precautions, including staying under observation for thirty minutes post-vaccination. And they can consult an allergy specialist, but you need to tell your immunisation provider if:
- If you have faced specific allergic reactions to a previous dose or any Novavax Covid vaccine components.
- If you have encountered anaphylaxis to other vaccines or medications, your immunisation provider can determine if it contains any common components with the Novavax vaccine. And if you have had mastocytosis with recurrent anaphylaxis, that requires treatment.
On the other hand, you need to tell your immunisation provider or doctor you take blood-thinning medication (anticoagulant) as they can give accurate advice and suggest the best time to get the vaccine.
Also, people with the following health issues can take Novavax, but they need to confirm it with their GP, immunisation provider and Cardiologist. Because they can advise accordingly about when you should vaccinate or if you should follow additional measures:
- Recent (i.e. within the past three months) myocarditis or pericarditis
- Acute rheumatic fever or acute rheumatic heart disease (with active myocardial inflammation)
- Acute decompensated heart failure.
On the other hand, people who develop myocarditis and pericarditis after a Covid-19 vaccine must avoid further doses. Instead, they must discuss and look for alternative options for different Covid-19 vaccines. Furthermore, Novavax is safe for immunocompromised people and pregnant and breastfeeding women; if you are planning for pregnancy, you can take the vaccine without any doubts.
People who should avoid the Novavax vaccine
TGA suggests the following people avoid taking the Novavax vaccine:
- People who have suffered a severe allergic reaction to previous vaccine doses.
- People who encountered anaphylaxis after exposure to any vaccine components like polysorbate 80.
- People who have had any other severe incidents due to previous vaccine doses.
What should you do after vaccination?
You need to read about what to do after you are vaccinated and collect accurate information about the Covid certificate and mandatory safety protocols. Moreover, if you have taken the Novavax vaccine, you should still take a Covid test if you encounter any symptoms.