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Volunteers needed for shingles vaccine trial

People aged 50 and over are invited to take part in research looking at giving a shingles vaccine combined with the COVID-19 or flu vaccine.

Researchers in Southampton are testing the safety and immune responses of the vaccines.

The study, known as ZosterFluCOV, is running at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility and Southampton Research Hub. It is coordinated by the Bristol Trials Centre.

Combining vaccine trips

One in three people will get shingles in their lifetime. It occurs when an old chickenpox infection is reactivated and causes a painful rash.

In the UK, a shingles vaccine is currently offered to people when they reach the age of 65. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are also offered to people in this age group. If the shingles vaccine could be combined with the flu or COVID-19 vaccine, it would save having to make several trips to see the GP, and might be more effective.

Dr Chris Holroyd, Consultant Rheumatologist at University Hospital Southampton, said: “Older people are offered an ever-increasing number of vaccines to help prevent different infections. We are really keen to find ways to combine these vaccines, to make it easier for people to take up these offers and reduce their risk of certain infections.”

Preventing shingles

Symptoms of shingles include a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin, a headache or feeling unwell, and a rash which may develop into itchy blisters. Some people have pain at the site of the infection that can go on for many years and is difficult to treat.

The vaccine stops most people getting shingles, but those that do have a milder and shorter illness. It is okay to have the shingles vaccine if you have had shingles before, as it will boost your immunity.

Wheelchair user Alison Lamball, 62, from Gosport, had shingles two years ago and was very unwell. She’s taking part in the trial at Southampton Research Hub in the Royal South Hants Hospital.

“Because I have MS, my nerves really overreacted and I was in so much pain I was suicidal,” she said. “By taking part in the trial I am hoping to protect myself and others. I have eight grandchildren, and taking part means I am helping their futures too.”

Clare Tull, 58, from Romsey, is also taking part in the study at Southampton Research Hub.

“My father is 85 and frail - so I wanted to take part to help protect him,” she said. “Taking part benefits my whole family - we’ve lost loved ones to COVID-19 and so we like to be really involved in vaccines and immunisations. We understand the importance of research.”

If you are interested in taking part in the study, please contact or call 023 8120 4989.

Photo: Alison Lamball seen during a clinic with Clinical Trials Assistant, Nicholas Lukwago


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