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Hospital staff step up for flu vaccine research


Four hundred members of staff at Leicester’s Hospitals have been enrolled into a University of Leicester study that hopes to better understand how long the flu vaccine offers protection from the flu virus. 

The BELIEVE study divided the volunteers into two equal groups: half of the participants were given the flu vaccine in early October, with the other half receiving the same flu vaccine in mid-November. All volunteers have agreed to give regular blood samples to track the levels of antibodies in their bodies, as well as monitor their health for signs of flu symptoms.

Dr Manish Pareek, Associate Clinical Professor in Infectious Diseases at the University of Leicester and a Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Leicester’s Hospitals, leads the study. He said: “There is some evidence that suggests the effectiveness of the flu vaccine may decrease towards the end of the flu season if the vaccine is given too early.

“Every year all NHS staff are offered the flu vaccine to protect themselves, but also act as indirect protection to at risk groups, such as older people and people who have a compromised immune system. We want to gather evidence to see if there is an optimal time to give the flu vaccine that confers the best protection throughout the flu season.”

Joni Vesty, a healthcare assistant in the ophthalmology department, heard about the study through a colleague. She said: “With the job I do, getting the flu vaccine is not just to protect myself, but everyone around me as well. That’s what matters the most to me. I thought ‘why not take part in the study?’ If they need people to volunteer for it to learn and progress, to protect ourselves and protect others, then it’s good for everyone.”

Dr Josh Nazareth, Clinical Research Fellow at Leicester’s Hospitals, is working on the study. He said: “We are so grateful to every member of staff who has volunteered to take part in the study, and for giving up their time so we can develop new insights into the effectiveness of the flu vaccine throughout the flu season.”

The BELIEVE study will continue to take blood samples from the volunteers and monitor their health until April 2021.


For more information: Rachael Dowling, Head of Research Communications, 07950 891193 / rachael.dowling@uhl-tr.nhs.uk