Researchers at Royal Cornwall Hospitals (RCH) NHS Trust are running a new study which could set the foundations for how booster Covid-19 vaccinations are delivered in the future.
The study - supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula (CRN SWP) - will determine whether booster Covid-19 vaccines should be given at the same time as flu vaccines.
While there are vaccines that have been approved to protect against Covid-19 in the UK, it is not yet known whether further booster doses may be required to give continued protection, and how giving boosters might fit in with the seasonal flu jab programme.
The new study, being led by Bristol Trials Centre (CTEU) at the University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), will look at the side effects and immune response given when people receive their Covid-19 booster and flu vaccine at the same appointment.
The study will involve people aged 18 years old or over who have received their first Covid-19 vaccination and are awaiting their second dose. It will look to recruit 504 participants across Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, North Bristol NHS Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal United HospiCtals Bath NHS Foundation Trust and UHBW.
Each participant will receive the second dose of the same Covid-19 vaccine they originally received, either the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine or the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Participants who are eligible to take part will then be allocated into one of two groups:
- One group will receive their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at their first visit, then a saline injection (placebo) at their second visit
- The other group will receive their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and a saline injection (placebo) at their first visit and then the flu vaccine at their second visit
Dr David Tucker, Consultant Haematologist at RCH NHS Trust and Principal Investigator for the study locally, said: “This is a vital piece of research because it aims to show that both the Covid-19 vaccine and the Winter Flu Vaccine can be given safely and effectively at the same appointment, allowing us to roll this out next winter as a way of protecting millions across the UK from seasonal flu and possible variants of Covid-19.
“We would encourage anyone who would like to help to get in touch – your involvement is vital and will be warmly welcomed.”
Dr Rajeka Lazarus, a consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at UHBW and Chief Investigator for the trial, said: “With the challenges of immunising large numbers of people against Covid-19 and the need to continue the seasonal influenza vaccination schedule, this next phase of vital research will establish whether it’s possible for us to protect people from both of these viruses at the same appointment.
“This would mean fewer appointments for those who need both vaccines, reducing the burden on those who have underlying health conditions and would usually be offered the influenza vaccine.
“We particularly encourage people who would usually be offered the influenza vaccine, as well as individuals from across all communities, to volunteer to take part.”
For more information about the study visit the vaccine trial website: comflucov.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/.
To sign up to the study email [email protected]
Frequently asked questions about the study can be found on the UHBW website.
The UK public can continue to support the national effort to speed up vaccine research and receive more information about volunteering for future vaccine studies by visiting the NHS Covid-19 Vaccine Research Registry.