Press release: Doctors study effect of children's nasal flu vaccine on family members

Child sneezing

Doctors in Southampton are participating in a novel study into how the nasal flu vaccine affects the way bacteria is spread between family members in the same household.

The project will involve more than 500 families with two-year-old children from across the UK who will receive the vaccine, which is offered routinely to children aged between two and 10 years old every autumn.

Nasal swabs and saliva samples will then be taken from the vaccinated two-year-old and at least two other family members – adults or children – to track the spread of bacteria at five home visits over two months.

“The vaccine causes a very mild flu infection and so protects against real flu but the mild infection can change the numbers of other bacteria in the nose too without causing any illness,” said Professor Saul Faust, director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility.

“We now want to understand the way the vaccine interacts with the bacteria that normally live in children’s noses and how these are transferred from one person to another to help us plan more effective strategies to prevent infections in the future.

“We are particularly interested in whether or not children with higher numbers of bacteria in their noses after the administration of the vaccine are more likely to pass them on to other family members.”

Saul FaustProf Faust, who is a consultant in paediatric immunology and infectious diseases at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the study provided “an ideal opportunity” to conduct additional research as it utilises the routine vaccination programme.

“Nothing in the study changes anything that would be happening anyway, it just tracks what is going on,” he said.

“We will protect young children from the flu by giving them the same flu vaccine they would normally receive, but we have an ideal opportunity to understand more about how bugs are spread to help us find more effective ways to treat infections.”

The study, which is running at ten sites across the UK, is being coordinated by the Bristol Children’s Vaccine Centre at the University of Bristol and funded by Pfizer and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Anyone interested in taking part in the study can contact the research team on 023 8120 4989, by email at or via for more information.

Posted on Tuesday 2 October 2018