Novavax vaccines will be rolled out from February 21, becoming the fourth type of COVID-19 jab available in Australia.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation had given the new COVID-19 vaccine the green light.
Novavax, which will be available for those aged 18 and older, will be a two-dose course with a minimum three-week gap between first and second doses.
Mr Hunt said Australia would now receive its first shipment of the vaccine and the Therapeutic Goods Administration would go through a detailed batch testing process. Presuming the regulator deems it safe, it will then be rolled out.
He said the protein-based vaccine expanded Australia’s COVID coverage, with 51 million doses having been purchased.
“For some who may have had contraindications or reactions with regards to other vaccines, this will provide an additional opportunity for them, as well as those who for whatever reason have not taken up the program so far,” he said.
“But I do want to encourage everyone, unless there’s a contraindication, please continue to come forward and take the existing vaccines.”
ATAGI says the vaccine can be taken by those who have had COVID-19, while severely immunocompromised people should take three doses. It can also be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
It also has noted Novavax to be “highly effective” in preventing symptomatic COVID in adults.
While welcoming the news, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners warned practices needed extra support.
“We are under enormous pressure … GPs and their teams will carry on and get as many doses into arms as possible, but we need more help and that needs to happen right now,” president Karen Price said.
“GPs are still reporting doses not arriving on time or insufficient stock being delivered. Practices are also struggling to absorb the cost of taking part in the rollout.”
Dr Price, who noted practices were given an additional $10 per booster shot since late last year, called for greater assistance now given “the scale of the task has only grown”.
She said additional funding could see more after-hours and weekend vaccinations.