AN INNOVATIVE flu vaccination is being tested on thousands of pensioners in the region.

Academics at the University of Oxford are hoping to recruit 10,000 people aged over-65 in Oxfordshire and Berkshire to take part in the first ever trial for a universal flu vaccine.

The researchers are hoping that a single flu vaccine could protect people against the virus regardless of the influenza strains doing the rounds that winter.

Currently, vaccines are changed each year in an effort to inoculate people against the most prevalent strains of the virus likely to affect people.

But if the vaccine is not well-enough matched to the virus, it may not protect people from catching the flu.

It is hoped that the new jab will prove more effective, as it targets the “core proteins” found in the virus, which do not vary between strains of influenza. The new vaccine will boost the number of influenza-specific T-cells in the body charged with killing the virus, researchers say.

The jab has already been tested on 145 people. However, academics now want to recruit 10,000 people over-65 living in Oxfordshire and Berkshire to take part in the next phase of the study.

Participants in the trial will either be given the regular annual flu jab and the new vaccine, or the regular jab and a placebo shot.

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University and co-founder of Vaccitech, which developed the new vaccine, said: “Every year, flu in older adults causes serious illness and sometimes death.

"We want to improve the situation, but in order to do that we need volunteers to help us test a new vaccine."

To apply to take part, visit: