Risk calculator targets child vaccinations

Parents can now use a ‘COVID calculator’ to help weigh up the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations for their children.

The latest update to the Immunisation Coalition COVID-19 Risk Calculator (CoRiCal) gives parents access to the latest information, and will help boost vaccination rates in children.

CoRiCal is a collaboration between the Immunisation Coalition, The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Sydney University and Flinders University.

CoRiCal team member, Flinders University Associate Professor John Litt, says promoting COVID-19 vaccination in children is more important than ever, although a current 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 past six months,” says Professor Litt.

“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 that decisions are informed by transparent risk-benefit analysis and effective risk communication, to ensure a higher vaccine uptake for 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 was initially designed to help adults make an informed decision around vaccination that is based on their current circumstances and their risk of getting COVID-19 under different transmission scenarios, says University of Queensland virologist Associate Professor Kirsty Short. “This update allows 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.

“There is a lot of misinformation online about COVID-19 and vaccinations, so this calculator plays a critical role by providing tailored, evidence-based information in a convenient way,” says Dr Short.

Dr Tej Shukla, a current Infectious Diseases Registrar in Queensland, led the design of the updated CoRiCal and says its risk calculations are based on a framework that allows researchers to update information as new evidence becomes available.

“The calculator streamlines and summarises large amounts of information and stores it in one reliable place,” Dr Shukla says.

Risk calculations are based on a modelling framework developed by experts at UQ’s School of Public Health and QUT.

The CoRiCal tool can be accessed here.

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College of Medicine and Public Health