NWT residents who were hesitant to receive the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for personal or medical reasons now have a new option to become immunized with the advent of the Novavax protein-based vaccine in the region.
The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority announced the arrival of the first Novavax shipment to the region on April 28. The vaccine is approved by Health Canada for all residents 18 years of age and older, and is administered in two doses eight weeks apart.
No proof of eligibility or a medical note is needed to qualify for the vaccine. However, Novavax is not yet approved as a second dose after mRNA vaccine. Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to their first dose of mRNA vaccine and wants to take Novavax as a second dose is encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider.
Unlike Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines, Novavax is not an mRNA vaccine, which “teaches” cells in the body how to produce the proteins that trigger an immune response to the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus. Instead, it contains a neutralizing spike protein from the COVID virus itself.
In Yellowknife, the first Novavax clinic will be held at Center Square Mall on May 18, with more clinics to be announced later. Due to limited supplies, in order to receive vaccinations from a health center outside Yellowknife, residents must request a dose before the shipment is sent.
The Novavax vaccine was first approved by Health Canada on February 17. As of April 10, no doses had yet been administered in Canada, but by April 28, 75,700 vaccines had been distributed nationwide, including 1,100 in the Northwest Territories.
The Novavax vaccine is already available in every province – only Nunavut has yet to receive a shipment of the new vaccine.