CLINICAL RESEARCH: Doctors based in Southampton are trialing a new “four-part” vaccine which they hope will offer children much greater protection against flu viruses.

The study is being conducted at the National Institute for Health Research Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at Southampton General Hospital, along with other centres in the UK.

It will investigate the effectiveness of the “quadrivalent” influenza vaccine, which is the first to cover four different types of flu virus.

Saul Faust, a specialist in children’s immunology and infectious diseases at Southampton General Hospital, said: “Current seasonal flu vaccines contain the three main circulating flu viruses each season but, in the last ten to 15 years, another variation has been spreading around the world and we need to counter that to offer children the best possible protection.”

Dr Faust added: “With the government’s decision to offer annual influenza vaccine to all children from 2014, it is very important that we are able to work out which the best vaccines to use will be.

“The quadrivalent influenza vaccine should give greater protection against the circulating flu viruses compared to the three strain version we have used in the past, but we need the help of parents to ensure we recruit quickly and complete the study vaccines before the main flu season starts.”