Nuvaxovid (Novavax)

Find out more about the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, including how it works, who it's recommended for and potential side effects.

Approval for use in Australia

Nuvaxovid (Novavax) is approved for use in people aged 18 years and over.  

The TGA provisionally approved Novavax for use in Australia on 20 January 2022. 

The Novavax vaccine is currently available for all people aged 18 years and over. 

Dose schedule

You need 2 doses of the Novavax vaccine, given at least 3 weeks apart.  The interval can be extended to 8 weeks in certain circumstances, including to potentially improve effectiveness and reduce the risk of rare side effects such as myocarditis and pericarditis.

You may not be fully protected against COVID-19 until 7 to 14 days after your second dose.  

If you have had COVID-19, you should wait to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine 3 months after your confirmed infection.

Although not preferred, Novavax can be used as a booster dose in the following circumstances:

  • people who have a contraindication to mRNA vaccines (including those who have had a serious adverse event following mRNA vaccines, e.g. a history of anaphylaxis or myocarditis attributed to an mRNA vaccine)
  • people who do not prefer an mRNA vaccine

Find out more about booster doses for people aged 16 years and older and third doses for people aged 5 years and older with severe immunocompromise. 

Staying up to date

To be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, you must have completed all the doses recommended for your age and health status.

Find out about how to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.

What's in the Novavax vaccine

Novavax is a protein-based vaccine. This type of vaccine contains part of the coronavirus spike protein.  

Your immune system cells recognise the spike protein as a threat and begin building an immune response against it.  

The Novavax vaccine also has an ingredient called the Matrix-M adjuvant. This helps create a stronger immune response to the vaccine. 

Novavax does not contain any live virus and it cannot give you COVID-19.  

You can read the full Nuvaxovid (Novavax) Consumer Medicine Information document on the TGA site for more details (click 'I accept' to see the PDF).  

Common side effects

As with any vaccine, you may have some temporary side effects after receiving the Novavax vaccine. 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. 

Most side effects are mild and go away within 1 to 2 days.  

Rare side effects

Rare side effects after the Novavax vaccine are severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). 

Some COVID-19 vaccines have been linked with a rare side effects of myocarditis and pericarditis (cardiac inflammation). The risk after the Novavax vaccine is not yet known. A small number of cases of myocarditis were reported in the clinical trial, though it is not yet known if these were caused by vaccine. The TGA and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) are monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines closely.

Find out more about myocarditis and pericarditis .

We don’t yet know if there are any other rare side effects after Novavax vaccine. This is because only relatively small numbers of people have received this vaccine worldwide. More information will be available over time. 

Risks and benefits

The benefits of vaccination with Novavax greatly outweigh the risk of side effects.   

People who are not recommended to have the Novavax vaccine

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

  • a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the vaccine 
  • anaphylaxis after exposure to any component of the vaccine, including polysorbate 80 
  • any other serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of the vaccine. 

Patient information

Our patient resources include fact sheets about the Novavax vaccine and what to expect after your shot.  

COVID-19 vaccination – Patient resources

This collection contains resources for patients receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

Last updated: 
21 July 2022

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