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COVID Calculator Wants to Boost Vaccinations in Children

A calculator created to facilitate COVID-19 vaccination rates amongst Australians has been updated to include the latest information on vaccines for kids in order to increase child vaccinations.

Launched by the Immunisation Coalition, and made up of a team of GPs, medical scientists, public health physicians, epidemiologists, and statisticians, the COVID-19 risk calculator (CoRiCal) was created to help people see their risk for getting COVID-19 under different transmission scenarios.

University of Queensland virologist and one of the tool’s lead researchers Kirsty Short said users can access the tool and input their age, sex, community transmission and vaccination status to find out their personalised risk calculation.

“For example, you can find out your chance of being infected with COVID-19 versus your chance of dying from the disease,” associate Prof. Short said.

“You can also find out your chance of developing an atypical blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine and see this data in the context of other relatable risks—like getting struck by lightning or winning OzLotto.”

Short said the new update would allow parents to gather that same information and apply it to their children’s circumstances.

“One of the main challenges for parents and clinicians has been a lack of access to the latest evidence regarding vaccination risks versus benefits, or illness and deaths prevented, in children,” she said.

Sinovac Community Vaccination Center Dedicated To Children and Elderly In Hong Kong
A child wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) enters a community vaccination centre administering the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Covid-19 vaccine to children and elderly in Hong Kong, China, on Feb. 23, 2022. (Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg)

Associate Prof. of Flinders University John Litt said promoting COVID-19 vaccinations in children has been difficult and the low uptake is “concerning.”

“In particular we’ve observed a very low vaccine uptake in children aged 5 to 11, with only a 10 per cent increase in the last six months,” Dr. Litt said.

“Anxiety about potential adverse events, especially for relatively new COVID-19 vaccines, may lead to hesitancy to receive first or subsequent doses.”

“It is, therefore, crucial decisions are informed by transparent risk-benefit analysis and effective risk communication, ensuring higher vaccine uptake in children—especially as we enter the winter months.”

“We hope the CoRiCal tool for children will provide a stable and reliable stream of information, without the risk of being misinformed or misled.”

The calculator’s risk calculations are based on a modelling framework developed by the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health and the Queensland University of Technology and can be accessed here.

Senator Accuses TGA of Downplaying COVID-19 Vaccines

This comes after Coalition Senator Gerard Rennick accused the of downplaying the risks associated with COVID-19 vaccines and not being truthful with the number of adverse events in relation to children’s COVID-19 vaccines.

Rennick made the allegation after a freedom of information request by an Australian doctor found the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), had failed to update the Database of Adverse Events with several deaths being attributed to the vaccine, including two children, aged 7 and 9.

Epoch Times Photo
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan (R), Liberal Senator Alex Antic (C) and Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick (L) at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on Nov. 21, 2022. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Senator Gerard Rennick said the regulator is making light of the risks surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.

“They are definitely downplaying the risks. They do not have enough information to rule it out given the known link between the vaccines and myocarditis and myocarditis and cardiac arrests,” Rennick told The Epoch Times.

He said he would push for independent oversight of the TGA.

“A third independent medical party should examine the evidence as the TGA has a conflict of interest because they approved the vaccines and would therefore be held responsible for the deaths of these children due to poor regulatory oversight,” Rennick said.

But the deputy secretary of Health Products Regulation Group, Prof. John Skerritt, defended the TGA’s decision to recommend the vaccines in a Senate Estimates hearing in February.

He said that while the TGA acknowledged and apologised for the pain and distress of those seriously injured from the vaccines, those reactions were a rarity.

“I have actually apologised on national television, together with former Minister Hunt, when the first death—the first sad death was a lady from the Central Coast. We apologised in writing for what were weekly and are now fortnightly vaccine safety reports.

“So we put out detailed public reports—as well as doing media—on vaccine safety, and, in those, we acknowledged the pain and distress of those who had been seriously injured, but we also emphasised the extreme rarity of these conditions,” he said. 

Victoria Kelly-Clark contributed to this report.

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