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COVID-19 vaccine research

Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infections like COVID-19.

Researchers need people to take part in their studies so they can find out which possible new vaccine works best.

On this page you can sign up to be contacted about taking part in approved UK COVID-19 vaccine studies and other research. This means you'll be joining the COVID-19 vaccine registry.

This service is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

What's involved in signing up to be contacted

You can sign up online. We'll ask you some questions about yourself, and then ask your permission for researchers on the vaccine studies to contact you.

If you sign up, your details will be kept secure. They'll only be shared with researchers who think you might be suitable for a study they're working on. The researchers will then contact you to tell you more about it, and answer any questions you have.

If you sign up to be contacted, you do not have to take part in a study or talk to researchers. It's your choice.

You can withdraw your permission at any time.

About vaccine studies

Who can sign up to be contacted for COVID-19 vaccine studies?

Anyone 18 or over living in the UK can sign up to be contacted about taking part in COVID-19 vaccine studies. There is no upper age limit.

Researchers often need to include people with different health conditions to see how the vaccine works. If you have a health condition, there may be studies you can take part in.

What if I've had a COVID-19 vaccination?

There will be studies suitable for people who have had a vaccine against COVID-19. These include studies for:

  • COVID-19 treatments
  • more vaccines
  • other non-COVID-19 research

If you sign up, you can choose to be contacted only about COVID-19 vaccine research, or about other research as well.

What's involved in taking part in a vaccine study?

If you take part in a vaccine study you'll need to visit the hospital, or other research site, a few times over 6 to 12 months.

At these visits, you'll usually:

  • be told about the research study
  • have the chance to ask any questions
  • have blood tests
  • have an injection, which may or may not be the COVID-19 vaccine

Between visits, you'll be asked to tell the research team about any symptoms you have. You may need to do some things at home, like take a throat and nose swab every week, or keep a diary.

Are vaccine studies safe?

Vaccines are tested to make sure they're safe before being tested in people.

The number of people the vaccine is tested on will depend on the stage of the study. You will usually be told how many people have been tested before you decide to take part in a study.

The vaccine will not give you COVID-19. Vaccines are designed so they do not cause the infection.

There is a chance of side effects. Common side effects include:

  • soreness, redness and swelling at the site of the vaccination
  • tiredness
  • aching muscles
  • a high temperature

These may last for a few days and usually get better by themselves.

Will I be asked to take part in a study that's far away?

COVID-19 vaccine research is taking place across the UK so it's likely there'll be some research taking place near you.

If a researcher asks you to take part in a study, you can say no if you feel it's too far away.

Who runs COVID-19 vaccine studies?

In England, the research partner of the NHS is the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). The NIHR is working with equivalent NHS research partners in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales on vaccine studies.

If you sign up to be contacted about vaccine studies, only researchers on studies approved by NIHR will be able to contact you.

You can find out more about these vaccine studies at NIHR's Be Part of Research website.

There are strict rules on safety and confidentiality that all health research, including vaccine studies, must follow.

How are studies approved?

The overall plan for a research study is called a protocol. Before a study can start, the protocol needs to be approved by a group of researchers who are not involved in the study.

An independent research ethics committee will also review the protocol. This committee is responsible for looking after your rights, safety, dignity and wellbeing when you take part in research. It can also decide whether the study can go ahead.

Researchers are not allowed to change the protocol without telling the ethics committee. The ethics committee can stop a study at any time if it has any concerns about the welfare of people taking part.

If you have questions about signing up, see answers to common questions about signing up for COVID-19 vaccine research.

Logo image for the National Institute for Health and Care Research

Page last reviewed: 21 March 2023
Next review due: 21 March 2026