WellKiwis study staff will monitor flu-like illness for seven years through regular surveys.

Samples required:

  • A cord blood sample is needed from the birth mother (only WellKiwi Infant).
  • One baseline blood sample upon enrolment.
  • One annual blood sample.
  • An additional blood sample if you receive the flu vaccine. It's completely your choice if you get vaccinated. 
  • Nose or throat swabs - only if flu like symptoms appear.
  • Additional samples (blood or swab) if a flu virus infection or COVID infection is detected.

What samples are collected?

NOSE OR THROAT SWAB: If a participant has symptoms that are likely due to the flu, our study staff will set up a time to take a nose and/or throat swab to test for flu and other respiratory viruses during the flu season. If the swab shows no flu virus then we’ll let you know, and there is nothing that needs to be done further. If the swab shows that you have the flu virus, we’ll work with you to collect a blood sample from you.

BLOOD SAMPLES:  Over the study, we will need to collect a blood sample from participants a few times each year.


Baseline blood (one-off collection): For WellKiwi infants it will be collected from the umbilical cord after you give birth. For WellKiwi household participants it will be collected upon enrolment.

Post-vaccine blood: if you have a flu or Covid-19 vaccination, a blood sample will be collected 3-6 weeks after the vaccination.

Post-flu blood: a pair of blood samples will be collected from you if the respiratory swab is positive for the flu virus. The first blood sample will be taken 1-2 weeks after illness onset and another 3-6 weeks later.

Annual blood: collected outside of the flu season (usually Nov-March).

A trained healthcare professional experienced in taking blood from children will collect blood samples.

Less than 4 mL (less than a teaspoon) of blood will be taken from infants under 6 months old, 4 mL from those 6 months to 2 years old, and 8 mL (less than a tablespoon) from those aged 2 years and over.

Blood collections will be timed to fit with your schedule. You do NOT need to make an appointment. A time and place will be arranged with you.

You are welcome to perform a karakia at sample collections.

What are swab and blood samples tested for?

Swab samples will be tested for flu and other respiratory viruses (respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza types 1-3, Rhinovirus, human metapneumovirus, enterovirus, adenovirus). These tests will show if these viruses may cause symptoms in participants.

Blood samples will be tested for antibodies and other immune cells, and specific genes associated with immune responses. These tests will show if participants have developed immunity to the flu virus or vaccine.

When do I have the blood test done?

Participants will be contacted by our study team to arrange collection of your blood samples when required.

Where does the blood go after the sample has been taken?

The blood will go to the National Influenza Centre (NIC) at ESR in Upper Hutt for sample processing. Then these samples will be sent to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRS) Memphis, USA). This is the main testing centre for samples from all three study country sites. Some samples may be sent to other collaborators at Universities and Medical Schools such as Mt Sinai, Chicago, Washington, Emory, Rochester and Stanford for some specific immunology testing that cannot be done at SJCRS.

How do I know my test results?

You will be notified of your swab result as soon as possible. Your GP will also receive the results done on your respiratory swab, about two weeks after ESR receives the swab. Your GP will not receive the results done on your blood sample. This is because these blood test results are not for clinical purposes and the blood tests need to use samples across a number of years, and therefore the results may not be available for several years. 

How is participants privacy protected?

When we report the results of the study, we will group participants’ results together so that none of you or your personal information can be identified (anonymised). Only authorised researchers working on the project will analyse the results from the study.

Can anything go wrong?

Nose/nasopharyngeal swabs may cause brief pain, itchy nose, eye watering, or sneezing. Throat swabbing could cause some discomfort, coughing, or gagging. The risk from blood collection is usually minor, such as redness or bruising around the site where the blood is taken. The procedure may also cause infection and some discomfort.

Please see our FAQs for more information

WellKiwi Infant: FAQ [PDF, 912 KB](external link)

WellKiwi Household: FAQ [PDF, 465 KB]


If you have any questions or what to check your study information please email Wellkiwis@esr.cri.nz or call 0800 493555 (08004WELLKIWI)