In the UK, vaccines save thousands of lives every year. They are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases. Vaccines have the potential to help us beat coronavirus (COVID-19).
There are different types of vaccines, and we don't know which one will work best to protect people from catching COVID-19. It might be that different vaccines are needed for different groups of people so we're planning to run a few different vaccine studies.
How you can help
We can only research COVID-19 vaccines if people like you take part.
You can sign up to give permission for researchers to contact you about taking part in COVID-19 vaccine studies. By collecting details about people who are interested in taking part in vaccine studies, the service will help cut down the time it takes to find volunteers for vaccine studies. This will help us to carry out studies and find a vaccine faster.
You can sign up if you are 18 or over, and live in the UK.
You are not signing up to take part in a specific health study when you use this service. You are letting researchers know you're happy for them to contact you if they think you might be suitable to take part in their studies.
Which vaccine research studies could I be contacted by?
In the UK, the research partner of the NHS is the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). Vaccine studies that are supported by the NIHR can apply to use the service, and if approved will be able to contact you. You can view studies that are currently approved to use the service and that may contact you:
Frequently asked questions about this service
Unfortunately, we cannot give a set timeframe for a researcher contacting you, and there is a chance you may not be contacted.
Every research study has both a set of criteria about which people are suitable for taking part and a target number of participants. Both of these factors will affect whether you are contacted to take part and if you are, when.
For example, there might not immediately be a study you are suitable for, but one may open up a few months after you have given your permission to be contacted. Or there may be studies you seem suitable for but that already have enough volunteers.
No. Signing up is just the first step to joining a research study.
- If you match the criteria for a vaccine study, based on the information you gave when you signed up, you may get an email from the study team telling you more about the study so you can decide if you are interested in taking part.
- If you are interested in taking part, the researcher will need to collect some more information about your health to see if you are suitable for the study. This information might be collected online or in a conversation or both.
- The researcher will update you about whether you are suitable to take part. If you are, you'll then be able to decide if you want to take part in the study or not. There will be no pressure: it's your decision.
At the current time, the NHS COVID-19 vaccine register is only open for those over the age of 18. We are looking to make ongoing improvements to it and we know that many under 18s would like to register. Some COVID-19 vaccine studies will be recruiting young people and children under the age of 18.
The studies listed on Be Part of Research have inclusion and exclusion criteria and this should tell you the age groups they are looking to recruit. They will often focus on recruiting different age groups at specific times.
Frequently asked questions about vaccine studies
If you take part in a vaccine study, you may or may not be offered the vaccine. Vaccines are tested to make sure they're safe before being tested in people.
You'll need to visit the hospital, or other research site, a few times over 6 to 12 months.
At these visits, you should:
- be told about the research study
- have the chance to ask any questions
- have blood tests
Between visits, you'll be asked to tell the research team about any symptoms you have. You may also be asked to self-monitor at home, for example by doing swabs or keeping an e-diary.
Is it alright to travel to take part in vaccine trials or other research in areas with high levels of COVID restrictions in place?
Yes. Please do continue to travel to take part in vaccine trials, other health research or for other healthcare requirements. Volunteers taking part in vaccine trials are even more important in areas highly affected by COVID at the moment. If you have concerns about travel to your appointment or how you will be kept safe during the appointment, please contact the research team for more information.
Yes, please sign up to register your interest. Researchers will be looking for lots of different people to take part in their studies to make sure it works for everyone. Some studies may be looking specifically for people with an existing condition or a suppressed immune system, and people of all ages, as they may respond differently to a vaccine.
Registering with this service will enable researchers to contact you. When they do, they will discuss any pre-existing medical conditions you may have with you. You may also want to speak to your own health professional for further advice.
Will suitable volunteers who signed up first be more likely to take part than those that sign up now?
Taking part doesn't work on a first come, first served basis. Most vaccine studies will take place at multiple sites, like hospitals, across the country. Those sites may be looking for different groups of people to take part, some areas may need more people of a certain age for example.
So whether you are contacted to take part will be based on many factors including where you live and information about you and your health. Researchers will look at your answers to the questions asked when you register to see if you're suitable for their trial, and contact you if they think you may match what they need.
In the UK, the research partner of the NHS is the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). If you sign up to be contacted about vaccine studies, only researchers on studies supported by NIHR - and who have applied to use the service and been approved - will be able to contact you. You can view a list of NIHR supported COVID-19 vaccine studies above.
When researchers from an approved study contact you, the first email will be from an official nhs.net email address. In the list above, you can select an approved study to find out the official email address that you will receive an email from, if you match a vaccine study. Check this list to ensure the email you receive notifying you that you may be eligible for a study is legitimate.
If you are interested in a study you receive an official email about and decide to get in touch with the study team and/or complete the online screening as directed in the email, then the study team will be in touch with you directly.
Researchers will never ask you for money or passwords. Always be alert to the risks of clicking on links or attachments. You can learn more about how to protect yourself from scam emails on the Action Fraud website.
Check back on Be Part of Research or contact the team if you are worried that an email may not be legitimate. Contact from researchers will be from one of the following email addresses: nhs.uk; nihr.ac.uk or ac.uk.
If you enrol on a vaccine study, the research team will collect information as part of that particular study. This information is held by the research team and any information that is collected about you will be kept confidential, in the same way as your medical records.
- If your doctor or consultant is not the person who approached you about the study, it can be helpful for them to be told you are taking part in a study as they will be responsible for your day-to-day healthcare; but they can only be told with your permission.
- Once the study has finished the results are usually published, and often presented at conferences. No name or any information that can identify you will be used in this presentation or any reports about the study.
Vaccines are tested in a number of stages to make sure they are both safe and effective. You may be invited to participate in a study that is evaluating whether the vaccine is safe to be used for other people like you.
The information you are given about any study you are invited to take part in will explain what stage the vaccine is at and how it has already been tested. You can consider this information when deciding whether to take part.
The number of people the vaccine has been tested on will depend on the stage of the study. You should be told how many people have been tested before you decide to take part in a study.
Yes, if this is recommended for you. You may need to wait between one to four weeks between receiving the flu vaccine and receiving any COVID vaccine, but you can still enroll in the study and discuss timing with the research team. Do not put off your flu vaccination to take part in the COVID trial, as it will give you important protection.
There is no need to routinely self-isolate if you are taking part in a vaccine study. After some vaccines, you may experience a fever for one or two days. If this were to happen, then you may need to self-isolate depending on the current public health policy.
Common vaccine side effects include soreness, swelling and redness at the site of the vaccination and sometimes more general symptoms like tiredness, achy muscles and fever which may last for a few days and get better by themselves.
The vaccines themselves should not pose a risk to those you live with. If a household member is shielding and you are supporting them by staying at home to limit exposure to infection, then taking part in the vaccine study would require you to leave your home more frequently.
You do not have to tell family, friends or employers that you are part of a vaccine study. If you are admitted to hospital for any reason, we ask you to inform the staff caring for you.
Joining a research study should not affect life or critical illness insurance cover that you already have. You don’t generally have to tell your insurer that you are taking part in a research study, or the results of any investigations found during the study.
This is because life insurance is long term and continues until either you cancel it or make a claim. It is always best to check the terms and conditions of your policy with your insurer. If you are taking out a new policy, most of the time, insurance companies will ask about your health and your medical treatment, but won't be worried about the fact you are taking part in a study. But if they ask, you need to tell them, and answer all questions as fully and accurately as you can.
No, not generally, as taking part in the COVID vaccine study does not increase your risks. But do speak to the study team if you have travel planned, as it may affect when appointments and tests are booked. When applying for travel insurance, insurers will ask questions about a person's health in order to make an accurate assessment. Customers should answer any questions in the insurance application to the best of their knowledge. The insurer will ask about any pre-existing health conditions and associated medical treatments.
Participation in a clinical trial is not something that would be expected to lead to increased premiums or insurance refusal as it does not carry increased risk above that associated with the condition under trial. So, whilst having a condition itself may attract additional costs to travel insurance, participation in the clinical trial should not result in any further costs or penalties.
We need volunteers for the vaccine trials, to gather evidence on which vaccines are safe and effective, before a vaccine can be deployed for the wider population. It is possible that one or more vaccines will be found effective and approved for use before the trial follow-up period has ended. The Vaccines Taskforce and other relevant organisations will ensure that the best advice is made available to all trial volunteers, and that they are not disadvantaged by having taken part in a trial. This may include trial volunteers being offered a further vaccine if they are in a group set out as a priority for the newly approved vaccine. Advice will be made available to all trial participants.
Some vaccine studies will ask that you do not donate blood for the duration of the study.
This will depend on the vaccine type but this information should be available from the study team.
This will depend on the study type but this information should be available from the study team.
I want to help but don't want to or can't take part in a vaccine study
You might wish to volunteer for another type or more specific COVID-19 research study, or see a full list of health conditions covered by studies on this site.
Who is involved?
The sign-up service is delivered in partnership between the National Institute for Health Research and NHS Digital. NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner to the health and social care system using digital technology to transform the NHS and social care.
The NIHR is working with equivalent NHS research partners in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We are also working with ZOE, the company behind the COVID symptom tracker app, although ZOE volunteers are also asked to sign up to the NHS registry.