Novavax rollout to begin from next week

Andrew Brown |

The Novavax vaccine will be rolled out across the country from Monday, as the federal government extends pandemic emergency measures for a further two months.

Novavax will be made available at GP clinics, community pharmacies and state-run vaccine clinics.

The rollout of the first protein-based vaccine in Australia was brought forward by one week.

The first batches of the vaccine arrived in the country earlier this week, with the government having purchased 51 million Novavax doses.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Novavax would complement the other vaccines being used.

“Novavax has been proven safe and effective in protecting against severe illness or death associated with COVID-19 infection,” Mr Hunt said in a statement.

“Despite high vaccination rates in Australia, there has been demand for a protein-based formula. For some people, the arrival of Novavax will be the extra push they need to get their first jab.”

It comes as pandemic emergency measures were extended until April 17, having been implemented in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

Under the measures, emergency requirements including restrictions on outbound travel for unvaccinated Australians, mandatory pre-departure and mask wearing for international travel, and restrictions on cruise ships entering the country will continue.

Other measures include implementing restrictions to protect remote communities in the Northern Territory and preventing price gouging of rapid antigen tests.

Mr Hunt said the extension was necessary due to the wave of Omicron cases.

“These emergency requirements have helped Australia respond quickly to manage the number of inbound travellers, reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading on flights and at international airports in Australia.”

The health minister said the emergency measures may be revoked before April 17 if the health advice changes.

While the measures also restrict cruise ships from entering Australia, an agreement at Thursday’s national cabinet meeting has paved the way for cruises resuming.

Mr Hunt said NSW, Victoria and Queensland have agreed to work with the industry to implement new safety measures, and restrictions can be lifted when it was safe.

It comes after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation implemented new advice, with Australians now needing to have had a booster to be considered “up to date” with vaccinations.

Those who got their second dose more than six months ago and are yet to get their booster will be considered “overdue”.

The updated advice from the advisory group will come into effect at the end of March.

People aged over 16 are eligible for their booster shot three months after receiving their second dose.

However, it will be up to states and territories to mandate boosters for international tourist arrivals.

Meanwhile, there were 48 new deaths from COVID-19 in the latest reporting period.

Of those, there were 19 fatalities in NSW, 14 in Queensland, 13 in Victoria, two each in South Australia and the NT, and one in Western Australia.

The latest figures showed there were more than 25,000 infections across the country, with almost 9000 in both NSW and Victoria, while Queensland had just under 6000 cases, South Australia had 1445, NT 1096, Tasmania 552 and WA 51.