New NCIRS resource - Influenza vaccination during COVID-19 - FAQs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at an increased risk of serious disease when they contract influenza. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people are accessing an influenza vaccine. The influenza vaccine is funded under the National Immunisation Program for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6-months and over. 

NCIRS have created a new FAQ resource addressing questions most frequently asked by people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community:

NCIRS: Influenza vaccination during COVID-19 - FAQs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Are children with asthma at a greater risk of severe disease with COVID-19?

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) are conducting extensive research into why children are more mildly affected by COVID-19. They are also investigating whether chronic health conditions such as asthma increase the risk of severe disease.

Read more about how children with asthma may be affected by COVID-19 at the link below:

MCRI: COVID-19 and asthma: what are the risks for children?

ATAGI guiding principles for maintaining immunisation services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Immunisation remains an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic and it is very important immunisation providers maintain routine immunisation services whilst complying with measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

If scheduled vaccines are missed or delayed and the overall vaccination coverage rates drop, the risk of a resurgence of a well-controlled vaccine preventable disease like measles is increased. If this happens during or after the current pandemic, it places further stress on the health care system.

With this  in mind, ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) have released guiding principles on maintaining immunisation services during the COVID-19 pandemic:

ATAGI: Guiding principles for maintaining immunisation services during the COVID-19 pandemic

New podcast: COVID-19 and children featuring Associate Professor Nigel Crawford

Associate Professor Nigel Crawford is interviewed by Dr Harry Nespolon, GP and RACGP president on Healthed Australia's Going Viral podcast. They discuss COVID-19 and children and cover the following:

  • Are children super-spreaders, asymptomatic shedders?
  • Transmission at school and home – what do we know?
  • Febrile child – should I suspect COVID-19?
  • Childcare considerations
  • Flu co-infection and vaccination
  • Newborns and vertical transmission

You can listen to the podcast here:

Healthed Australia: Going Viral Episode 27: Children, newborns and transmission; childcare considerations; flu co-infection and vaccination

Clinical trial of BCG vaccine against COVID-19 (BRACE)

Led by Professor Nigel Curtis, Researchers at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are conducting a randomised controlled clinical trial of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19. The study, known as the BRACE trial (BCG vaccination to Reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Australian healthcare workers following Coronavirus Exposure), has been endorsed by the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Designed to provide protection against tuberculosis, the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine may also potentially provide immunity to protect against other infections. The purpose of the BRACE trial is to investigate whether or not BCG vaccination protects against COVID-19 or reduces the severity of symptoms of COVID-19 in healthcare workers.

This has led to people who do not meet the criteria for the trial seeking to have the BCG vaccine.

MVEC and physician BCG experts, have reached a consensus position on this issue, as detailed below:

We strongly advise against anyone having BCG outside of a clinical trial, unless they meet criteria as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook tuberculosis guidelines.

BCG vaccine is known to be effective in protecting young children from tuberculosis, and has been affected by global shortages in recent years.  Using a vaccine (like BCG), for a non-proven use, carries risks to those vaccinated and those who prescribe it. Furthermore, additional use of BCG vaccine outside a trial, could lead to shortages for infants who need it to protect against tuberculosis. Many travel clinics providing BCG have been placed on-hold due to the current limitations on overseas travel.  However, travel and hospital-based BCG clinics will aim to increase access to the vaccine when travel restrictions (including to tuberculosis endemic countries) are lifted.

Authorised by:

  • Dr Nigel Curtis, Dr Nigel Crawford, Dr Jim Buttery, Dr Shidan Tosif, Dr Daryl Cheng and Dr Teresa Lazzaro
    -8th April 2020


Telethon Kids provide COVID-19 resources for parents, families and schools

The Telethon Kids Institute have created resources for parents, families and schools in which their experts provide up to date advice and address community concerns (including a video Q & A session from kids in the community). 

Their information is reliable, current and based on the best-available evidence.

You can view their resources at:

Telethon Kids: COVID-19

Clinical Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases David Isaacs talks about the COVID-19 pandemic

Clinical Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases David Isaacs and his son, Mark Isaacs, writer, researcher, photographer and community worker have recorded a podcast about the COVID-19 pandemic and what you need to know. It is a great overview of the COVID-19 pandemic and helps to dispel some of the myths and hysteria surrounding the disease.

The original post with links to the transcript can be found here: Professor David Isaacs talks about COVID-19

The podcast can be found here:

ChangeMakers: Professor David Isaacs Change Maker Chat


Coronavirus (COVID-19) & pregnancy

An article from the Raising Children's Network about Coronavirus and pregnancy.  Coronavirus is new, so we’re still learning about it and how it affects people, including pregnant women and their babies.  However, new evidence suggests pregnant women don’t seem to be more likely to get coronavirus than other healthy people of the same age. Use the link below to read the full article. 

Coronavirus (COVIID-19) & pregnancy

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and children in Australia

Your kids are hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19). The Raising Children Network (Australia) has developed a useful resource to ensure they get reliable information.

Here are some tips on how to talk about it: COVID-19 and children in Australia

MJA podcast now available: COVID-19 in Australia with Professor Allen Cheng

The MJA have released a podcast with Professor Allen Cheng, Director of the Infection Prevention and Healthcare Epidemiology Unit at Alfred Health. He and MJA news and online editor Cate Swannell discuss how COVID-19 may behave in Australia and how we can protect ourselves and our patients.

Listen to the podcast here:

MJA Podcasts 2020 Episode 8: COVID-19 in Australia, with Prof Allen Cheng