Australian Novavax trial participant finally receives Pfizer second dose after confusion

Julia Tresidder is relieved to have finally received two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Julia Tresidder is relieved to have finally received two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Julia Tresidder's bureaucratic nightmare finally ended with the jab in the arm she had been pleading for.

By a strange quirk of the system, the 60-year-old was barred from the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine because she had taken part in the original trials of the Novavax vaccine.

But until she could get the second jab, she couldn't get the proof of full vaccination which she says the places she works at will demand.

She feared her job was on the line.

"I couldn't sleep. I was more at risk of mental health problems," she said.

The difficulty was that the Novavax vaccine for which she offered herself as a human guinea pig to test hasn't been formally approved in Australia, though the Commonwealth government says it's expecting 51 million doses by the end of the year, enough for the whole Australian population.

But the authorities said that because she had tested it, they couldn't give her more than one dose of Pfizer, not the full two doses to count as full vaccination.

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They wouldn't give her AstraZeneca because then she would have three vaccines in her body, a cocktail which hasn't been tested.

Part of the problem may be legal liability. Doctors and health professionals feared that straying outside the strict legal limits would open them up to legal claims, perhaps far into the future, if anything went wrong.

Dr Tresidder works with scientists, and she said that universities were starting to talk about compulsory vaccination - and proof of it - to be allowed on campus.

She's also booked a holiday in Batemans Bay in November but the ACT government had indicated that travel to NSW would be restricted to those with the full vaccination.

She called and emailed doctors and officials repeatedly. In the end, a nurse took up her case and got it sorted out, with a jab to end the nightmare.

It may end up working out better in the long run because the indications are that the Novavax may be more protective even than other vaccines, and with fewer side-effects.

The company said it was 100 per cent effective against "moderate and severe disease" in trial results.

"I'm glad I trialled it," Dr Tresidder said.

"We wouldn't have vaccines if people didn't trial them."

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This story Vaccine bureaucracy nightmare finally results in a second Pfizer dose first appeared on The Canberra Times.