Nb: See resources on right hand side and at the bottom of this page.
Nuvaxovid, the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, has been approved to be used as a primary vaccination course and a first or second booster for people aged 18 and older in Aotearoa. Use as a second booster is limited by the criteria for second boosters. Pfizer continues to be the preferred vaccine.
Nuvaxovid is a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine (the first available in NZ), which can be used as a primary course with 2 doses, given at least 3 weeks apart, ideally 8 weeks apart. If used with another COVID-19 vaccine, at least 4 weeks (28 days) interval is recommended.
Nuvaxovid boosters must be at least 6 months post the previous COVID-19 vaccination.
Nuvaxovid 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.
Use as a booster
Nuvaxovid is approved for use as a first and a second booster dose from the age of 18 years.
Early data supports the safety and effectiveness of its use as a booster dose. In the UK COV-BOOST study participants aged 30 years or over with no history of laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were given one of six vaccines as a booster dose at least 84 days post two doses of Comirnaty or at least 70 days post two doses of AstraZeneca.(6) Following a Comirnaty primary series, the neutralising antibody titre after a dose of Nuvaxovid was 2.7–5.4 greater than the control, while a Comirnaty booster induced 5.8–8.4 higher antibody titres.
For those who experience severe adverse events to their second dose of Comirnaty vaccine, Nuvaxovid would be an effective booster although it appears less immunogenic than Comirnaty as a booster dose.
Use in adolescents
Nuvaxovid has been approved by Medsafe for use in the primary course for adolescents aged 12-17 years. Currently, this use is not available as part of the National Immunisation Programme and requires a prescription and written consent.
Common side effects after Nuvaxovid 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 include severe allergic reaction (eg, anaphylaxis). The vaccine has had limited take up around the world so information on rare side effects is limited.
Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis were identified in clinical trials of Nuvaxovid and have also been reported during post-authorisation use. These findings suggest that an increased risk for these conditions may be present after receiving Nuvaxovid. Post marketing experience also includes reports of decreased or painful skin sensations.
People are observed for around 15 minutes post vaccination.
It can be stored at normal fridge temperatures (2C to 8C).
Efficacy against Omicron
Laboratory tests suggest that Nuvaxovid has efficacy against the Omicron strain, but real-world data from people vaccinated with Nuvaxovid is not available yet.
Resources on Nuvaxovid from Novavax
Ministry of Health information:
Information pages here.
Medsafe CMI for Nuvaxovid
Medsafe data sheet for Nuvaxovid