Public weighs in on pandemic vaccine allocation plan

first_imgDec 12, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – As US officials wrap up efforts to gauge the public’s response to a draft plan for allocating vaccine supplies during an influenza pandemic, suggestions to fine-tune the plan are emerging, such as giving higher priority to critical infrastructure workers, the families of key healthcare workers, and community pharmacists.A 3-day Web dialogue, held Dec 4 through 6, drew about 420 people who either participated in or observed guided discussions on various aspects of the pandemic vaccine prioritization draft, according to summaries of the dialogue posted on the event Web site. The event was sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).The groups, with assistance from the Keystone Center, a nonprofit science public policy group based in Keystone, Colo., will hold a stakeholder meeting in Washington, DC, tomorrow. They also sponsored a series of public engagement meetings in January in Las Cruces, N.M., and Nassau County, N.Y., and in November in Milwaukee and Henderson County, N.C. HHS is taking comments on the draft pandemic vaccine allocation plan through Dec 31, according to a Federal Register notice.A federal interagency working group presented its vaccine prioritization draft to HHS’s National Vaccine Advisory Committee on Oct 23. The tiered approach lists key health and safety personnel and children as top priorities.During the Web dialogue, participants offered several ideas for revising the draft guidance, according to daily summaries on the dialogue Web site. Some suggested that adding an age criterion to the occupation groups might help the plan fulfill its goals of reducing deaths and maintaining critical infrastructure. “It was noted that the draft guidance is not age-based, but leans more toward protecting society (critical infrastructure) and the population groups at the top [of the priority lists],” the summary notes.One of the main themes, according to the daily summaries, was protecting critical infrastructure, especially the electric power grid. Employees who maintain electrical systems should be moved to the top tier, many of the participants said.”Some suggested that the only true critical infrastructure is electric power,” the dialogue summary said. Employees who maintain power systems “should receive the highest priority for prophylactic antiviral medications, have special support for their families, and be first in line for vaccine,” the summary noted.The vaccination priority of family members was also raised several other times during the Web dialogue. Though many participants seemed to support family coverage for first responders and other key healthcare workers, there was less of a consensus on priority status for the families of military members and homeland security employees. Some surveys have indicated that many healthcare workers will not show up for work during a pandemic if their families don’t receive antiviral medication or vaccines and if they don’t have adequate personal protective equipment.Some participants said the final vaccine priority plan should factor in important supply chain issues and protect workers who produce and deliver necessities such as raw materials, medicine, food, and fuel.The discussion moderators asked participants what the government should do to make the vaccine priority plan more acceptable to the public. Suggestions included keeping citizens informed when supplies of vaccines and antiviral medications change. “Citizens will be enraged if their expectation is not adjusted before a pandemic starts. Set the policy for the current reality and be up-front about the implications,” the summary said.Though the discussion summaries don’t suggest that participants supported moving many groups down on the priority list, a poll at the end of the dialogue asked participants to make some difficult choices. The dialogue summary said the poll questions were crafted from questions and concerns from the dialogue and public engagement sessions. About 170 people took part in the poll, which also included some who attended public engagement sessions in Henderson County, N.C., and Milwaukee. The poll results are available on the dialogue Web site.For example, when participants were asked if people aged 80 or older should be moved from tier 4 to tier 5, 76% (129) agreed to some extent. And when they were asked if school-age children should be moved up and vaccinated before infants and younger children, 79% (135) agreed.Terry Adirim, MD, MPH, a member of the federal interagency work group that produced the draft vaccine plan, served as a panelist during all of the Web dialogue. Adirim is medical adviser for medical readiness in the Office of Health Affairs in the US Department of Homeland Security. She also helped facilitate some of the public engagement forums.Adirim said the dialogue and public engagement sessions were designed both to solicit public comments and to educate the public about pandemic readiness issues, and the facilitators were impressed with how much many of the attendees already knew about the topics. “We consider it a success,” she said, adding that participants made it clear they had concerns about personal preparedness and government transparency about pandemic and vaccine-related issues.”People also wanted children protected, and moderators familiar with the vaccine plan were able to address why they [the interagency working group] did what they did,” Adirim said.Nicholas Kelley, a masters’ degree candidate in environmental public health at the University of Minnesota, took part in the dialogue during all 3 days. “I’m 24, so I’m in an age-group that would be at high risk, and these issues are fascinating to me,” he said. Kelley is also a research assistant for the CIDRAP Business Source and has worked on college pandemic plans.He said many of the participants were uncertain about how the case-fatality rate during a pandemic will actually steer vaccination strategies, especially since what’s known about the rates during a pandemic is based on historical data. “There’s a lot of disconnect,” Kelley said.”People really want to keep as many alive as possible, but no one really wanted to move people down [the priority list],” he said.Support for protecting critical infrastructure workers grew as the Web dialogue progressed, Kelley noted. “You could see a real shift by the third day. People were adamant about critical infrastructure,” he said.”In a public forum, there are always possibilities for heated emotional exchanges, but the Web format included well-articulated and thought-out comments,” Kelley said of the Web dialogue.In a previous report, the federal interagency working group said that after receiving public comments it would revise the vaccine prioritization plan, which will be considered a final interim report.See also:Draft Guidance on Allocating and Targeting Pandemic Influenza Vaccinehttp://www.flu.gov/individualfamily/vaccination/allocationguidance.pdfOct 24 CIDRAP News story “Pandemic vaccine proposal favors health workers, children”Federal Register notice on comment submissionPandemic vaccine prioritization Web dialogue sitePandemic vaccine allocation poll resultslast_img read more

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They’re back! Big increase in first home buyers in June quarter

first_imgAerial view of residential housing in Queensland. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt.Queensland, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory all experienced an increase in first home buyers during the June quarter, with the territories recording growth of 49.6 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor1 hour ago“The average loan size to first home buyers increased by 1.2 per cent over the June quarter and 0.6 per cent over twelve months to $365,600 with the average loan size to first home buyers decreasing in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory over the quarter,” Mr Kasehagen said.“Year on year, the average loan size to first home buyers increased in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory.”This is what you’ll get for $4.6m in BrisbaneThe 10 worst postcodes for mortgage stressHomes that’ll make you go greenThere was also some relief for renters during the June quarter.The proportion of median family income required to meet rental payments dropped by more than half a per cent to 24.3 per cent.Rental affordability improved slightly in Queensland, dropping 0.7 per cent to 23 per cent of income required to meet median rents. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 1:25Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -1:25 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD540p540p360p360p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenFirst home buyer struggles01:25FIRST home buyers have made a bold return to the property market after months on the sidelines, with Queensland welcoming the biggest increase.The latest report from the Real Estate Institute of Australia and Adelaide Bank reveals the number of loans to first time buyers increased by 14 per cent during the June quarter, with increases in all states and territories except Tasmania.That’s despite government grants for first time buyers in some states not coming into effect until July 1.Queensland welcomed more first-home buyers into the market than any time in the past year, with the number of loans increasing by nearly 12 per cent in the June quarter and almost 20 per cent compared to the same time last year.The average loan size for first home buyers in the state increased 1.5 per cent during the quarter to $296,033.Real Estate Institute of Queensland spokesperson Felicity Moore said that confirmed the Queensland market’s viability and good value proposition.“It’s also a reflection of the impact of the Government’s first-home buyer grant boost of an additional $5000 to a total of $20,000,” she said.“Young Queenslanders have seized upon the opportunity to jump on the property ladder and take their first steps to personal wealth creation.”Of all buyers in the market for their first home in the three months to June 30, more than a quarter were from Queensland.But Victoria tops the charts as the state with the largest number of first home buyers, followed closely by Queensland.Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:34Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:34 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD540p540p360p360p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenMonthly Core Index: August00:34The June quarter edition of the Adelaide Bank/Real Estate Institute of Australia Housing Affordability Report shows a slight decline in housing affordability nationally, with the proportion of median family income required to meet average loan repayments increasing by 1 percentage point to 31.4 per cent — just above the 30 per cent threshold usually used to define mortgage stress.In Queensland, the proportion of income required to meet home loan repayments increased by half a per cent during the quarter to 27.2 per cent.That’s up a modest 0.2 per cent on the same period a year ago.The average monthly loan repayment in Queensland increased to $1,948, from $1,933 a year earlier.And the median weekly family income in the state is $1,651, according to the report.But Adelaide Bank head of business development Darren Kasehagen said that shouldn’t overshadow the good news that first home buyers had made a comeback. Real Estate Institute of Australia president Malcolm Gunning.Real Estate Institute of Australia president Malcolm Gunning said that while housing loan affordability had declined across the country, rental affordability had generally improved.“This improvement was recorded across all states and territories except in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory,” he said.“Historically, rental affordability declined markedly from the June quarter 2007 reaching its lowest point in the March quarter 2010.“Since then rental affordability has been showing a trend improvement reflecting the pick-up ininvestment in housing from the end of 2011.”last_img read more

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Severson ‘hurdles’ over opponents in 600

first_imgFor many collegiate athletes, the transition from high school to college can be a difficult adjustment. It can be harder when an athlete has to participate in events in which they have no prior experience.For freshman hurdler Jenna Severson, however, finding her place on the track team has come sooner than expected. Severson, a Minneapolis native, joined the University of Wisconsin women’s track team this year and has already begun to make her presence known.A proficient hurdler in high school, Severson could not run her desired event in the indoor season as it is run solely in the outdoor season, but she was able to make her way onto the indoor track as a freshman by playing a different role.“I was surprised with the success I had in the indoor season, because I really didn’t think I had a race there,” Severson said. “I ended up competing in the 600 and placing, and that was really unexpected.”Severson was able to find a race that suited her abilities as an athlete by placing eighth in 600 meters at the Big Ten indoor championships. For an athlete who had no prior experience in the event, putting the anxiety aside and placing as high as she did against a highly competitive field was a pleasant surprise.“I was pretty nervous for it, but it just went really well,” Severson said.With a successful indoor season behind her, Severson has now turned attention on the outdoor season, where she can run her main event: the hurdles. But unfortunately for Severson, another transition needed to take place before that could happen.At the high school level, the 400-meter hurdles were not offered as an option for Severson to compete in. Remarkably, she competed in the event for the first time after she graduated from high school.“This is the first time running the 400-meter hurdles since I was only able to run the 300-meter hurdles in high school,” Severson said.Severson’s high school, like many around the country, did not list the 400-meter hurdles as an event, instead having athletes participate in the 300-meter variety. At the collegiate level, the 400-meter hurdle is the only event of the two that exists.To Severson, the reason for having only 300-meter races in her state is a mystery.“It’s really confusing,” she said. “Some states have 400 hurdles and some just do 300, I don’t know what the reasoning behind it is.”Regardless of the rationale for the confusion among events, Severson needed to adjust quickly to the extra 100 meters added to her best event. In the Rose-Hulman Early Bird meet that opened the outdoor season, Severson answered the call emphatically with a first place finish in the 400-meter hurdles. It is safe to say Severson was more than pleased with the result.“It was a huge deal for me because I finally got the chance to run my race,” Severson said. “I didn’t expect it to go that well, and it felt great so I’m hoping it only gets better.”The freshman hurdler is now getting an opportunity to compete in her type of event and is excited about the opportunity to showcase her talents in the outdoor season that is just underway. The coaching staff certainly expects most freshmen to go through an adjustment period when they arrive on campus, but Severson has wasted no time in getting a good start to her career as a Badger.“I’ve just taken it day by day, meet by meet,” Severson said. “I just try to take it one race at a time, and try not to get caught up in the grand scheme of things, but I’m really excited that things have started out so well.”last_img read more

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