Study Conducted at the CIR Pairs Flu Shot and Shingles Vaccine

As seen in the Beacon Newspaper August 2022 Baltimore Metro Edition:

By Margaret Foster

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new recommendation:  People over age 65 should get a stronger flu vaccine than the general public.

Why? Because they’re more likely to suffer serious complications from the flu.  That’s because our immune systems don’t work as well as we age.

“As we get older, our ability to respond to vaccines – especially influenza vaccines – really decreases because our immune system ages with us,” said Dr. Kawsar Talaat, a Johns Hopkins University associate professor whose research focuses on vaccines.

Adults over 50 are also vulnerable to shingles, so shingles vaccines are recommended too.  A relatively new shingles vaccine called Shingrix was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2017.

So far, no one has every studied the side effects of getting a seasonal flu vaccine at the same time as Shingrix – until now.

Study seeks local volunteers

This fall, Hopkins researchers want to find out which of two FDA-approved flu vaccines (a high-dose and one called FLUAD) has fewer side effects when administered with Shingrix.

“This study wants to see if there’s any difference in the side effects after vaccination if you get Shingrix and the FLUAD or the Shingrix and the high-boost vaccine,” explained Talaat, principal investigator of the Johns Hopkins arm of the study, which plans to enroll 180 adults.

The three-month study is blinded, meaning participants won’t know which flu vaccine – the high-dose or the FLUAD – they’re receiving.

“Either way, they’re getting a good vaccine” Talaat said. “These vaccines have both been shown to be more effective than a regular flu vaccine in people over 65.”

Four visit to Hopkins

The study requires four in-person visits to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus. Parking fees will be reimbursed, and participants will be compensated for their time. While the first visit will last several hours, the other three will take about an hour.

At the first visit “we get to know the volunteers, and we have to go through their medical history…so that can take time,” Talaat said.

In addition, the first visit will include a standardized physical exam; participants will walk a short distance, stand up from a chair, etc.  They’ll also have blood drawn.  They’ll return two months later to get the second and final dose of Shingrix.

Between visits, researchers will check in by phone fie times.  Study participants will complete a “quality of life” survey at home during the week after receiving the vaccines.

Who’s eligible for the study? People over 65 who are generally healthy – and who want to get free, excellent vaccines before flu season arrives.  The study is enrolling people who have never received the Shingrix vaccine and haven’t yet had their flu vaccine this year.

For more information or to volunteer, email or call (410)955-7283.

Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay

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