ATAGI releases Novavax guidance for adolescents

Matt Woodley

26/08/2022 4:02:04 PM

The new advice means adolescents aged 12–17 years will have another COVID-19 vaccine option from 5 September.

Novavax vaccines.
ATAGI has recommended that adolescents in need of a primary course receive two doses eight weeks apart. (Image: AAP)

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has green-lit the administration of Novavax’s Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine for 12–17-year-olds.
The new advice comes nearly one month after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the vaccine’s use among 12–17-year-olds, and means teenagers now have another COVID vaccination option outside of those provided by Pfizer and Moderna.
Prior to making its determination, ATAGI evaluated data on immunogenicity, efficacy, safety, and international recommendations. But while the vaccine has been deemed safe and effective for this cohort, the group also noted that there is less information on ‘safety and immunogenicity’ compared to the available alternatives.
The manufacturer’s dosing schedule is listed as two doses at least three weeks apart, but ATAGI has recommended that recipients wait eight weeks between doses.
‘While there is no evidence on extended dosing intervals for Novavax, the extended interval of eight weeks is consistent with other COVID-19 vaccines and evidence from other COVID-19 vaccines has suggested a longer dose interval may improve vaccine effectiveness,’ the advice states.
‘The longer dose interval may also reduce the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, particularly for those most at risk of these side effects [males aged 12–39 years].’
For people with severe immunocompromise, the recommended schedule is three doses of COVID-19 vaccine, although the timing for this cohort is dependent on other factors.
ATAGI has also advised that Nuvaxovid can be used as a booster for all adolescents aged 16 and over, as well as the following 12–15-year-olds, provided no other COVID-19 vaccine brand is suitable for that person:

  • Those who are severely immunocompromised
  • Those who have a disability with significant or complex health needs
  • Those who have complex and/or multiple health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19
According to the Department of Health and Aged Care, around 16% of 12–15-year-olds are yet to receive a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while less than half of 16–19-year-olds have received a booster.
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