Teesside health trust welcomes first Novavax participant for the COVID-19 booster

A Teesside health trust has opened its doors today for participants in the Hartlepool Novavax trial to receive their first Pfizer vaccinations.

Teacher Michelle Currie, from Marton, Middlesbrough, is the first Novavax participant to walk through the doors of the University Hospital of North Tees for her very first Pfizer jab.

Michelle took part in the Novavax vaccination study at the University Hospital of Hartlepool late last year. The vaccine has since been found to be 89% effective in protecting against COVID-19 – but there have been delays in guidance for its official use.

Following official guidance last week, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust – which operates both the University Hospital of North Tees and the University Hospital of Hartlepool – is now pleased to welcome back the participants for their vaccination.

Michelle said: “I was very happy to take part in the study and I have trusted Novavax completely. The support I’ve had from the Novavax team and staff at the Trust has been brilliant.

“But I was alarmed that I wouldn’t be fully vaccinated.”

Michelle’s concerns began to grow as she worried her travels over the Christmas period may be at risk.

Her first dose of Pfizer today will be followed by a second dose in early December, leaving plenty of time between the vaccination and her family trip to Austria.

Michelle continued: “I was worried that I was going to have to do loads of PCR tests, have to isolate or not be able to go away at all.

“To finally have an approved vaccine today just feels like such a weight has been lifted.”

Michelle is the first of many Hartlepool Novavax participants who will receive either a booster or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine with an eight-week interval between them.

David Chadwick, principal investigator for the Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance which runs the Hartlepool study, said: “Everyone involved in the study is being given the option to either receive the booster shot or a full course of two Pfizer vaccines to enable them to travel abroad.

“While we understand the frustrations of all of our volunteers, we are pleased to be one of the first centres in the world to be offering this option.

“It will allow people to who haven’t been able to travel over the last year to do so after their second vaccine.

“Our fantastic team have been committed to supporting participants through every step of the process. We hope this welcome news is reassuring for everyone involved in the study.”

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