The Sign up to be contacted for coronavirus vaccine studies service is being soft launched to capture information and permissions for potential contact by health researchers, making it quicker and easier to source volunteers for vital vaccine studies that could help save lives.

The new service is being led by the NIHR Digital office and delivered in partnership with NHS Digital as part of a broader Vaccine Taskforce project for the UK Government. 

John Nother, NIHR Chief Digital Officer, said: “We are going through unprecedented times in our country and the NIHR team in partnership with NHS Digital have worked tirelessly to deploy this important national initiative in less than a month. 

“The sign up to be contacted service should enable researchers to reach a wide audience for COVID-19 vaccine research and longer term for all NIHR research. This system will support the NIHR to deliver more research and thereby enable better patient care. 

“I’d like to say a big thank you for all the countless hours spent to get this system up and running and encourage everyone to sign if you are comfortable doing so.”

It will be formally rolled out to residents in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales through the NHS website (NHS.UK) later this month. However, ahead of this full deployment we are encouraging colleagues to use the service, check it works as planned and provide an initial bank of interested participants. Please don’t share the link outside NIHR at this time, ahead of the public launch later in July.

Signing up is an individual choice and you can also change your mind about participating at any time.

What does signing up mean?

The service provides permission (consent) for researchers to contact users about taking part in health research for a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, and potentially future studies beyond. 

You are NOT signing up to take part in specific research. You are letting researchers know that you’re happy for them to contact you if they think you might be suitable to participate in their research.

Signing up involves email verification and providing your name, date of birth, postcode, sex registered at birth, gender and ethnic grouping. There are also some screening questions around your health – although no detailed personal or clinical information is required.

The purpose is to ensure researchers get the right mix of different people taking part in vaccine studies, and to make sure that any vaccines developed will work for everyone.

NHS Digital will facilitate future contact through the service and will also manage secure access to the permissions data through DARS and DigiTrials.

The launch follows extensive work by NIHR and NHS Digital on content development and design, user and technical testing, information governance, data access and stakeholder engagement colleagues working in tandem with the Vaccine Taskforce team.

Sign up to be contacted for coronavirus vaccine studies 

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