The Novavax vaccine now distributed is  aimed at those hesitant about the other COVID-19 vaccines has kicked off in more than a thousand general practices.

Dr Anita Munoz, whose Melbourne practice administered 25 doses on Monday, says she was initially unsure how many vaccine-hesitant patients who said they were waiting for Novavax vaccine would go through with it.

“But it’s actually more than most people thought.”

She said some of her patients were encouraged to delay vaccination by church groups.

Other people were really hanging out for it to be distributed  because of the difficulties they’d had with socialising, seeing family and working when they were unvaccinated,” she said.

The Federal Government believes between 5% and 20% of the 900,000 Australian adults who opted not to be vaccinated will opt for the Novavax vaccine.

Their main concerns seem to have focused on the apparent risks of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the use of new mRNA technology in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

GPs and practice nurses administering the new vaccine must complete a 30-minute training course developed by the federal Department of Health but Dr Munoz stressed it is not as onerous as the original COVID-19 vaccine training last year.

In addition to a primary course — made up of two doses at least three weeks apart — the vaccine can be administered as part of a mixed primary schedule to adults over 18 who have received one or more doses of another COVID-19 vaccine and as a third dose for people with severe immunocompromise. 

The vaccine can also be given to pregnant and breastfeeding women, with the caveat being there is no available immunogenicity or safety data despite no “theoretical concerns” about teratogenicity.

Last week, ATAGI chair Professor Nigel Crawford said the issue “was being deliberated” based on clinical data.

But it was unlikely to happen soon — given no jurisdiction in the world had as yet approved it as a booster.

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