Aussies in Novavax trial can’t get vaccination certificates

Brave Australians who took part in trials of the Novavax vaccine have not earned the same freedoms as everyone else.

Australians who were among the country’s first to roll up their sleeves and receive their Covid vaccinations are now being denied the freedoms given to others.

About 2500 people in NSW agreed to take part in Covid vaccination trials in 2020 to test the Novavax vaccine.

The participants got the shot in September of 2020, receiving two doses, then received a booster shot in September of this year.

However, until the Novavax vaccine is approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), its recipients cannot obtain a Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate.

One such man told his vaccination was not being recognised by the state and federal government.

John*, who asked to remain anonymous, is a 32-year-old who works in the health industry.

He put his hand up to take part of the vaccine trials because he wanted to help make a difference to Australia’s Covid response.

“It just felt like a great opportunity to do something that would help bring the pandemic to an end,” he said.

“The Novavax is a really good vaccine. Trial participants in the UK and US are officially recognised as vaccinated, even though Novavax is not approved yet.

“But it is not the case for Australian participants. I live in Sydney and I am unable to go do typical activities like other people who have been vaccinated with Pfizer or AstraZeneca, despite having three jabs. It doesn’t make any sense.”

A spokesman for the federal Department of Health told “only Covid vaccines registered for use in Australia by the TGA” can be reported to the Australian Immunisation Register, enabling the creation of a Vaccine Certificate.

“It is anticipated that people involved in Novavax trials will have their vaccine recognised if Novavax is approved by the TGA,” the spokesman said.

“The decision to recognise vaccinations provided through trials before they are registered in Australia is a matter for the state or territory.

“Novavax’s Covid vaccine application is under a rolling review, whereby the sponsor supplies the TGA with data as it comes to hand. The TGA can only make a regulatory decision on the Novavax vaccine once the complete data package has been provided.

“Therefore, it is not possible to speculate on time frames at this stage.”

The government has said it expects 51 million doses of Novavax to be available in late 2021, should the TGA approve the vaccine.

Australia’s expert vaccine advisory group ATAGI would then advise the government on when and how the vaccines should be used.

John has tried to contact the federal and state health departments about the vaccine and whether he would be provided with a vaccine passport. He is yet to hear back.

He is especially frustrated as he feels common sense should prevail.

“I am a little embarrassed to talk about this more widely as there is some stigma attached to participating in a clinical trial. But I’d love to be able to think about travelling and making use of these other freedoms, I have no knowledge of when I can get a vaccine certificate,” he said.

“I want to move on with my life. The bigger picture is that this is a really good vaccine. One that is great at stopping the transmission of Covid as well as protecting individuals.” asked NSW Health whether it would develop a system whereby participants in these trials are provided with vaccine passports to show they are vaccinated against Covid, but officials declined to answer, claiming it was an issue for the federal government.

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