NWT residents who were hesitant to get an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine for personal or medical reasons now have a new option to get immunized with the arrival of the Novavax protein-based vaccine in the territory.

The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority announced the arrival of the first Novavax shipment in the territory on April 28. The vaccine is approved by Health Canada for all residents 18 and older, and is administered in two doses eight weeks apart.

No proof of eligibility or medical note is required to qualify for the vaccine. However, Novavax isn’t yet approved as a second dose after an mRNA vaccine. Anyone who had an allergic reaction to their first dose of an mRNA vaccine and wants to take Novavax as a second dose is encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Novavax isn’t an mRNA vaccine, which “teaches” cells in the body how to produce proteins that trigger an immune response to the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus. Instead, it contains a neutralized spike protein from the Covid virus itself.

In Yellowknife, the first Novavax clinic will be held on May 18 in Centre Square Mall, with more clinics to be announced at a later date. Due to limited supply, to receive an immunization from a health centre outside Yellowknife, residents will need to request a dose in advance of shipments being sent out.

The Novavax vaccine was first approved by Health Canada on Feb. 17. As of April 10, no doses had yet been administered in Canada, but as of April 28, 75,700 vaccines had been distributed nationwide, including 1,100 to the Northwest Territories.

The Novavax vaccine is already available in every province — only Nunavut has yet to receive a shipment of the new vaccine.

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