Kate Hedger 2.jpgAfter retiring from the Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust in June 2021 as a radiographer, Kate Hedger felt a desire to continue do her bit to support the pandemic response and help protect people against COVID-19.

The 62-year-old from Fareham joined the Cov-Boost trial at the Portsmouth Research Hub, and received a third ‘booster’ dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 2,800 participants took part in the trial, led by University Hospital Southampton, across the UK and attended regular follow-up appointments to help researchers understand the longevity of the immune response and the degree of protection given.

Kate said: “As a healthcare professional I had my COVID-19 vaccinations quite early on so I thought I might be eligible to take part.

“I found out about the study from my local news programme. I’m fit and healthy and I knew I was going to have more time on my hands.

“It was nice to be given the opportunity to take part in the trial and I feel so proud of it all being local to me.”

Kate’s first trial visit was a memorable one for a number of reasons.

She explained: “I retired on the 1 June, the day before I came for my first trial visit, so it's a date I’ll never forget.

“My son and his partner had my first grandchild, a little boy called Robert, the day I joined the trial. I remember going to the trial feeling very, very excited.”

The trial published its results in December 2021 and showed that six COVID-19 vaccines, were safe and boosted immunity for people who have had two doses of AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech.

Kate said: “Before the trial started, the staff explained everything.

“They would explain things 100 times over if you wanted which was really nice and I was never left on my own doubting something or worrying.

“It sounds really cliche to say but I wanted to do my bit, I wanted the trial to be a success. “I didn’t want to retire and have no knowledge of what’s going on and I felt that being a part of this trial helped with this.”

She said: “Participating in research comes with a sort of a feel-good factor, it feels like you're doing your bit and I would really encourage other people to do the same.

“It was fantastic to have such lovely staff who make you feel at ease and as if you’re part of something and it was nice to feel part of something really important. It’s been a very positive experience.”

Kate added: “I’m so proud to have been a part of the COV-Boost trial and the fact that the results are of such importance internationally is just fantastic.”

If you would like to get involved in research, PHU has a dedicated team who will be delighted to help with enquiries.

Please email: research.office@porthosp.nhs.uk