Doctors based at Southampton’s university hospitals are trialling a new ‘four-part’ vaccine that could offer children much greater protection against flu viruses.
The study, being conducted at the National Institute for Health Research Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (WTCRF) at Southampton General Hospital alongside other centres in the UK, will investigate the effectiveness of the quadrivalent influenza vaccine, which is the first to cover four different types of flu virus.
“Current seasonal flu vaccines contain the three main circulating flu viruses each season but, in the last ten to 15 years, another variation has been spreading around the world and we need to counter that to offer children the best possible protection,” said Dr Saul Faust, a specialist in children’s immunology and infectious diseases at Southampton General Hospital.
Around 8,200 children between 12 and 35 months old will be taking part in the study – 200 in the UK – which comes just months after the Government’s announcement that all children, from two to 17, will be offered annual flu vaccines from 2014 to save 2,000 lives a year.
Dr Saul Faust, director of the NIHR WTCRF and a reader in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology at the University of Southampton, added: “With the Government’s decision to offer annual influenza vaccine to all children from 2014, it is very important that we are able to work out which the best vaccines to use will be.
“The quadrivalent influenza vaccine should give greater protection against the circulating flu viruses compared to the three strain version we have used in the past, but we need the help of parents to ensure we recruit quickly and complete the study vaccines before the main flu season starts.”
Source: University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust