Publish date: 07 May 2021

Researchers at UCLH have begun a 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 UCLH Biomedical Research Centre, 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 study will look at the side effects and immune response given when people receive their COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine at the same appointment. It will involve people aged 18 or over who have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and are awaiting their second dose.

At UCLH the study will be led by Principal Investigator Professor Vincenzo Libri. The study will be conducted at the UCLH Vaccine Research Centre, part of the NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility.

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 COVID-19 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

Professor Libri said: “We are keen to start this important research alongside colleagues across the UK, and we hope the study will shed light on how we can protect people against both flu and Covid-19 at the same time in years going forward. If we can protect people against both flu and Covid-19 in the course of a single appointment, that will be beneficial for people being vaccinated, and also enable the healthcare system to offer vaccination in an efficient and timely way.”

Chief Investigator of the study Dr Rajeka Lazarus, a consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, 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 and how to sign up, visit the vaccine trial website:

Read study FAQs.

Image: pavasaris / Adobe Stock