Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

Also called Nuvaxovid

The Novavax vaccine protects against COVID-19. It is available for people aged 18 and older who would like a different option to the preferred Pfizer vaccine.

On this page, you can find the following information:

What is the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine?

The Novavax vaccine protects against COVID-19. It is a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine which stimulates your body’s immune system. It causes your body to produce antibodies to help fight the virus. This will help to protect you against COVID-19 in the future. None of the ingredients in this vaccine can cause COVID-19. 

Who can get the Novavax vaccine?

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Novavax vaccine is available for people aged 18 and older who would like a different option to the preferred Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine remains the preferred COVID-19 vaccine for use in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Who should NOT get the Novavax vaccine?

You should not receive Novavax vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to this vaccine or its ingredients. 

Can I get the Novavax vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, think you may be pregnant or are planning to have a baby, check with your health care provider about the use of the Novavax vaccine. There is limited data on the use of the Novavax vaccine in pregnant or breastfeeding people, so Pfizer remains the preferred choice of vaccine for this group. Your health care provider will discuss with you whether you can be given the vaccine. Read more about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

How is the Novavax vaccine given?

Novavax vaccine is injected into a muscle (usually in the upper arm). You will need to stay for at least 15 minutes afterwards so a health care worker can look out for you and make sure you are okay. Once the health care worker is confident that you’re fine and you are feeling okay, you can leave and carry on with your day.

How many doses of the Novavax vaccine do you need?

You’ll need 2 doses of the Novavax vaccine. The second can be given from 3 weeks after the first. To ensure you have the best protection, make sure you get both doses of the vaccine. You may not be fully protected against COVID-19 until 7–14 days after your second dose.

Novavax vaccine is available (from 5th July 2022) as a booster vaccine. You can only get it for your first booster dose. It is not available as a second booster dose. Read more about COVID-19 vaccine booster.

How does the Novavax vaccine work?

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.

How can I get the Novavax vaccine?

From 10 March 2022 you will be able to book your appointment to receive the Novavax vaccine at

If you select Novavax, the site will show a list of vaccination centres where Novavax can be given. Not all sites are equipped to deliver this vaccine.

If you’re unable to book online, you can call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am–8pm, 7 days a week). They will make the booking for you and answer any questions. Interpretation services are available if you need them.

Can I 'mix and match' COVID-19 vaccines?

It is preferable not to mix and match COVID-19 vaccines. If you get Novavax for the first injection, then you should also get it (and not the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine) for the second injection to complete your vaccination course.

What are the side effects of the Novavax vaccine?

Like all vaccines, the Novavax vaccine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. 

Common, mild side effects

You might experience some mild side effects 1–2 days after getting your vaccination – most do not last long. Some side effects may temporarily affect your ability to drive or use machinery.

Side effects  What should I do?
  • Pain, tenderness, swelling, itching or redness at the injection site
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Headache
  • These are the most common side effects after having the vaccination.
  • They usually start within 6–24 hours after getting the injection. 
  • Place a cold, wet cloth or ice pack on the injection site for a short time.
  • Do not rub or massage the injection site.
  • Tell your doctor if these bother you.
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Feeling unwell
  • Nausea
  • These side effects usually start within 6–48 hours after getting the injection. 
  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • They may be more common after your second dose of the vaccine.
  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken but follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Seek advice from your health professional if your symptoms get worse.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Rare side effects

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

Learn more

The following links have more information on Novavax vaccine.

Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine
Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ 


  1. Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine Medsafe, NZ
  2. Nuvaxovid (Novavax) Dept of Health, AUS
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, MPharm PGDipClinPharm, Auckland Last reviewed: 09 Mar 2022