North Carolina sites halt J&J shots after adverse reactions


RALEIGH, N.C. —
North Carolina health officials said on Thursday that they stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at a mass vaccination site in Raleigh and at clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill after at least 26 people experienced adverse reactions, including fainting.

Four people were taken to hospitals for further examination, and state and federal health officials are reviewing the matter.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that reactions like fainting are not uncommon after someone is vaccinated, though it is reviewing reports of adverse reactions in North Carolina and three other states. All those taken to hospitals are expected to recover, local health officials said.

“Right now, we are working with NC DHHS (the state Department of Health and Human Services) and the CDC to further evaluate the situation to assure everyone is confident in the continued safety of our vaccine operations,” said a statement from Kim McDonald, medical director at Wake County Human Services.

Wake County announced Thursday evening that it stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at PNC Arena after 18 of the more than 2,300 people vaccinated experienced adverse reactions, including four individuals who were taken to hospitals and are expected to be released.

The decision to halt J&J vaccines at PNC Arena was made with less than two hours of appointments left to be administered. People who were at the site were then given Pfizer vaccines or allowed to reschedule their existing J&J appointments.

A pair of clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill also elected to stop offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are in the process of rescheduling 350 appointments for people who were set to receive their single-dose J&J shot on Friday.

In Colorado on Wednesday, 11 people saw adverse reactions after receiving a J&J shot. Two of those individuals were taken to a hospital.

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said it is aware of adverse reactions in some people who received the vaccine shots in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina. Those reactions include dizziness, light headedness, feeling faint and rapid breathing.

She said the CDC is working with state and local officials to evaluate the issues and has performed vaccine lot analyses and not found reasons for concern. The CDC is not telling health departments to stop vaccinations.

“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” she said. “Many people don’t have any side effects after COVID-19 vaccines, but some people will have pain or swelling at the injection site or fever, chills, or a headache. These typically don’t last long and are signs that your body is building protection.”

David Wohl, an infectious disease expert at UNC Health who oversees the UNC vaccination sites, said between eight and 14 of the roughly 1,250 J&J vaccine recipients it injected on Thursday fainted after receiving the shot, though nobody was taken to a hospital.

Because of the timing of the day in which the adverse reactions started occurring, Wohl said UNC Health completed all shots for people who had appointments on Thursday at the two sites.

While his department is still working to analyze the source of the problem, he does not believe most of the cases stem from allergic reactions to the vaccine.

“I’m just concerned that if we have as many people fainting as we do, we need to understand why,” Wohl said. “Everyone that I’ve seen really doesn’t have an underlying medical history that’s of concern, but many of them do report having fainted previously.”

Johnson & Johnson, the vaccine’s manufacturer, said in a statement that “there is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of the people we serve. When we receive reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines and vaccines, we collect necessary information and carefully assess the events.”

—-

Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe in New York contributed to this report.



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North Carolina sites halt J&J shots after adverse reactions


RALEIGH, N.C. —
North Carolina health officials said on Thursday that they stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at a mass vaccination site in Raleigh and at clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill after at least 26 people experienced adverse reactions, including fainting.

Four people were taken to hospitals for further examination, and state and federal health officials are reviewing the matter.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that reactions like fainting are not uncommon after someone is vaccinated, though it is reviewing reports of adverse reactions in North Carolina and three other states. All those taken to hospitals are expected to recover, local health officials said.

“Right now, we are working with NC DHHS (the state Department of Health and Human Services) and the CDC to further evaluate the situation to assure everyone is confident in the continued safety of our vaccine operations,” said a statement from Kim McDonald, medical director at Wake County Human Services.

Wake County announced Thursday evening that it stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at PNC Arena after 18 of the more than 2,300 people vaccinated experienced adverse reactions, including four individuals who were taken to hospitals and are expected to be released.

The decision to halt J&J vaccines at PNC Arena was made with less than two hours of appointments left to be administered. People who were at the site were then given Pfizer vaccines or allowed to reschedule their existing J&J appointments.

A pair of clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill also elected to stop offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are in the process of rescheduling 350 appointments for people who were set to receive their single-dose J&J shot on Friday.

In Colorado on Wednesday, 11 people saw adverse reactions after receiving a J&J shot. Two of those individuals were taken to a hospital.

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said it is aware of adverse reactions in some people who received the vaccine shots in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina. Those reactions include dizziness, light headedness, feeling faint and rapid breathing.

She said the CDC is working with state and local officials to evaluate the issues and has performed vaccine lot analyses and not found reasons for concern. The CDC is not telling health departments to stop vaccinations.

“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” she said. “Many people don’t have any side effects after COVID-19 vaccines, but some people will have pain or swelling at the injection site or fever, chills, or a headache. These typically don’t last long and are signs that your body is building protection.”

David Wohl, an infectious disease expert at UNC Health who oversees the UNC vaccination sites, said between eight and 14 of the roughly 1,250 J&J vaccine recipients it injected on Thursday fainted after receiving the shot, though nobody was taken to a hospital.

Because of the timing of the day in which the adverse reactions started occurring, Wohl said UNC Health completed all shots for people who had appointments on Thursday at the two sites.

While his department is still working to analyze the source of the problem, he does not believe most of the cases stem from allergic reactions to the vaccine.

“I’m just concerned that if we have as many people fainting as we do, we need to understand why,” Wohl said. “Everyone that I’ve seen really doesn’t have an underlying medical history that’s of concern, but many of them do report having fainted previously.”

Johnson & Johnson, the vaccine’s manufacturer, said in a statement that “there is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of the people we serve. When we receive reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines and vaccines, we collect necessary information and carefully assess the events.”

—-

Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe in New York contributed to this report.



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Coronavirus contact tracing sites grow following identification of ‘missing link’ in Brisbane


On Saturday, Queensland announced it had detected one new locally acquired case of COVID-19 of a close contact of one of the existing clusters that saw Greater Brisbane locked down earlier this week.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the positive case had been in quarantine since March 27 and initially tested negative before recording a positive result overnight.

Following the Good Friday announcement that a previously unidentified nurse was believed to be the missing link in Brisbane’s COVID-19 clusters, Queensland Health updated the COVID-19 contact list.

The previously unidentified nurse, who also works at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, treated the same returned traveller who infected a doctor earlier in March.

Places visited by the nurse between March 10 and March 17 have been classified as historical casual contacts

Anyone who has been to any of these locations at the relevant times, including those more than 14 days ago, should get tested immediately if they have COVID-19 symptoms and quarantine at home until receiving the test result.

Anyone who visited the sites but has no symptoms is advised to visit a GP to arrange a blood test for COVID-19 serology. 

The nurse who visited these historic casual sites did not have any symptoms and was tested through being a contact of a positive case, but is believed to have been infectious in the community from March 10 to March 23.

The nurse also visited three places on March 22 and March 23 listed as close contact sites.

Close contact sites and casual contact sites, also listed below, were updated on Friday night.

Anyone who visited the close contact sites listed must quarantine at home immediately for 14 days from the time of attending those venues during those times and complete an online contact tracing self-assessment or phone 13HEALTH.

Anyone who has visited a site on the casual contacts list should get tested immediately, even if experiencing no COVID-19 symptoms, then quarantine at home while awaiting the test result, and also complete the online contact tracing self-assessment.

Wednesday, March 10

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Saturday, March 27

Monday 29 March 

Dozens of locations are on the list of casual contact sites, that carry a lower risk of exposure.

Anyone who visited these locations is advised to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Tuesday, March 16

Wednesday, March 17

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Saturday, March 20

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Queensland Health has just one low-risk site on their list. 

Anyone who was outside the Westpac at Peninsula Fair shopping centre in Kippa-Ring between 3:00 and 3:30pm on Tuesday, March 23 is asked to monitor for symptoms.

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Current contact tracing sites in Queensland, list expected to lengthen again today


More venues are expected to be added to Queensland’s growing list of possible exposure sites but as of Good Friday, this is the current list.

Anyone who visited the sites listed must quarantine at home immediately for 14 days from the time of contact, and complete an online contact tracing self-assessment or phone 13HEALTH.

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Monday 29 March 

Dozens of locations are on the list of casual contact sites, that carry a lower risk of exposure.

Anyone who visited these locations is advised to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Tuesday, March 16

Wednesday, March 17

Thursday, March 18

Friday, March 19

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Wednesday, March 24

Thursday, March 25

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Sunday, March 28

Monday, March 29

Queensland Health has just one low-risk site on their list. 

Anyone who was outside the Westpac at Peninsula Fair shopping centre in Kippa-Ring between 3:00 and 3:30pm on Tuesday, March 23 is asked to monitor for symptoms.

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Contact tracing sites in Brisbane and Gold Coast expanded following further coronavirus cases


Queensland contact tracers are continuing to work tirelessly to track people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the wake of two further cases of community transmission.

A range of venues across the Gold Coast, Brisbane and further north have been added to the growing list.

Some sites have been removed and other times have been updated, including for Sunday March 28 and Monday March 29. 

Anyone who visited the sites below must quarantine at home immediately for 14 days from the time of contact, and complete an online contact tracing self-assessment or phone 13HEALTH.

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Monday 29 March 

Dozens of locations are on the list of casual contact sites, that carry a lower risk of exposure.

Anyone who visited these locations is advised to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Tuesday, March 16

Wednesday, March 17

Thursday, March 18

Friday, March 19

Saturday, March 20

Sunday, March 21

Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 23

Wednesday, March 24

Thursday, March 25

Friday, March 26

Saturday, March 27

Sunday, March 28

Monday, March 29

Queensland Health has just one low-risk site on their list. 

Anyone who was outside the Westpac at Peninsula Fair shopping centre in Kippa-Ring between 3:00 and 3:30pm on Tuesday, March 23 is asked to monitor for symptoms.

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Park Hotel Motel, gym among new exposure sites


Concerns of a COVID-19 outbreak in Byron Bay are growing with NSW Health officials adding a gym and a pub among several new exposure sites within the coastal region.

NSW recorded one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The case became known after 8pm and will be included in Thursday’s numbers.

The new case was a man in his 20s who attended the Byron Beach Hotel with three of his friends, the same venue as a hen’s party where positive cases from Queensland were recorded.

On Wednesday afternoon, the annual Bluesfest musical festival was cancelled for a second straight year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Overnight, health officials added a handful of venues they consider high risk. The first is the Surfit 24/7 Epiq Gym at 5 Snapper Drive, Lennox Head on Sunday, March 28 between 6am and 11am.

The second is the Park Hotel/Motel at 223 Broken Heads Road, Suffolk Park on Sunday, March 28 between 1pm and 2pm.

“Anyone who attended the following new venues must immediately get tested and self‑isolate until they receive further advice from NSW Health,” a NSW Health statement read.

NSW Health also added several venues to a list of sites where anyone who attended between the hours indicated is considered a casual contact.

The first venue is Suffolk Park Bakery at 2 Clifford St, Suffolk Park on Saturday, March 27 between 11.15am and 11.40am.

Other venues are retail shops or grocery stores, but the time window for all is Saturday, March 28 between 12pm and 4pm:

  • Black sheep
  • Quiksilver Byron Bay
  • Surf, Dive & Ski
  • Tiger Lily Byron Bay
  • Kivari Boutique Byron Bay
  • Arnhem Clothing
  • Spell Designs
  • The Cellar
  • Aldi
  • Boards in the Bay, 12 Lawson Street
  • Byron Bay Central Pharmacy
  • Main Street Burger Bar
  • Surf, Dive & Ski, 2/14 Jonson Street
  • Ghanda, 3/8 Lawson Street

“Anyone who attended the venues at the times listed is a casual contact who must get tested immediately and self-isolate until a negative result is received,” NSW Health said.

“Please continue to monitor for symptoms and if they appear, isolate and get tested again.”

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Former Victorian school sites earmarked for market in ‘sale of the centurty’


Associate Professor McShane called for more demographic research on whether communities would need the public land before the government sells it off.

“There is merit in having a broader look at this issue in terms of the repopulation of regional Victoria.”

He said many communities had an emotional attachment to schools, but leaving them vacant and vulnerable to vandalism and neglect was also a “poor outcome”.

The public sites are a mix of crown and freehold land.

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Monash University senior researcher in urban planning and design Liz Taylor said recent history in inner Melbourne showed schools were later needed in the places where they were closed in the 1990s.

She warned governments could run into problems finding land when demographics changed.

“If there is an increase in population it’s going to be more expensive and time-consuming to buy it back later,” Dr Taylor said.

She said government departments made informed guesses about where enrolments would rise and fall to determine the best use for schools.

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However, she said the pandemic showed how sudden changes could have a big impact on local property markets.

Dr Taylor said assumptions about demographics could also be flawed, citing the poor planning for schooling in the Docklands.

Opposition planning spokesman David Davis said local communities should be consulted and areas of population growth should have proper plans in place to use the land before it is sold.

“This is a huge list of country land sales offered by Daniel Andrews Real Estate,” he said.

“But where is the government’s plan for these towns, many have growing populations, turbocharged by COVID as people flee the city.”

The government said it sold surplus land and acquired new land every year.

A state government spokesman said surplus land was first offered to other state, federal and local government entities before being sold on the open market.

“Funds from sales of surplus government land are reinvested by the government in our major pipeline of priority infrastructure projects as part of the annual state budget,” he said.

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Planting sites help grow green canopy


City of Logan continues to strengthen its green credentials with a decision to protect two Council-owned reserves and utilise them for tree planting.

Environmental (vegetation) offsets will be established in currently unused areas of Skene Road Reserve at Wolffdene and Newstead Park at Buccan.

Tree planting of the sites will be designed to allow for future community recreational use, including walking trails.

Neighbouring properties to the two sites have been identified as having environmental values, including core koala habitat. It will take about seven years for the sites to become fully established.

The two sites represent about five hectares of land which will be added to the more than 70 hectares of land Logan City Council currently manages for environmental offset plantings.

To date, Council has planted more than 70,000 trees under the offset planting program.

Offset planting is made possible through payments received from developers and property owners to compensate for the environmental impacts of clearing native vegetation.

The funds are spent on creating new native bushland habitats in areas that are forever protected from clearing.

The securing of new offset planting sites follows Council’s recent purchase of a 212-hectare property at Greenbank to be preserved as natural bushland and a koala habitat.

Council also earned national recognition last year for its planting and habitat protection programs.

City of Logan was named ‘Best on Ground’ by the Greener Spaces Better Places network for increasing the city’s green cover by 5 per cent at a time when annual population growth was 2 per cent.

The organisation’s annual report also found the city’s tree canopy had increased from 41 per cent in 2016 to 53 per cent in 2020.

Environment Chair Deputy Mayor Jon Raven said Council was committed to protecting and expanding green space.

“We are lucky to have so many beautiful natural environments in Logan and we understand the important role they play in our lifestyle,” Cr Raven said.

“That’s why Council continues to allocate millions of dollars each year to improve our waterways and koala habitats, implement species management and bushcare programs and deliver carbon reduction and energy efficiency strategies.

“We know the protection of our natural environment is vital for the future of our city and a priority for our community, which is why these programs are so important.”
 

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Australian news sites reappear on Facebook after Government agrees to amend media bargaining laws



Australian news is back on Facebook after the social media giant agreed to reverse a block on Australian content.

Facebook pages for news outlets including the ABC, Herald Sun, Seven Network and Sydney Morning Herald were restored in the early hours of Friday morning.

The move came a week after Australians were blocked from accessing news in their Facebook feeds or sharing news content.

Facebook said the move was in response to the Federal Government’s proposed media bargaining laws.

A number of non-news pages were initially swept up in the ban, including community organisations, charities and the Bureau of Meteorology.

The code is structured so that if Facebook and Google do not sign commercial deals with traditional media outlets the Treasurer can “designate” them, and force them to pay for access to news content.

Facebook agreed to reverse the ban after the Government said it would make amendments to the laws, including giving Facebook more time to strike deals.

More to come.

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Senior Facebook exec apologises for blocking health, emergency sites


More than 17 million local users woke up on Thursday without news articles from websites such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, The Australian, Guardian Australia and the ABC on the platform. They also found news posts from pages such as The Bureau of Metereology and Suicide Prevention Australia had also been removed. Facebook admitted it was an unintended consequence of its blanket news ban and blamed it partly on the vagueness of the definition of news under the proposed code.

The company uses human reviewers to assess whether a piece of content is news. But to implement this week’s intended ban, it compiled a list of pages it believed fell under the proposed laws and then used machine learning and artificial intelligence to remove content.

“There’s still some pages that we’re looking at but some of it’s really difficult in that the law isn’t clear and therefore there may be some pages that were clearly not news but actually under the law they might be,” Mr Milner added. “That’s one of the challenges for us. We’re sorry for the mistakes that we made on that front.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed on Friday morning he had spoken to Mr Zuckerberg about Facebook’s concerns and was continuing to find a solution that was workable for both parties.

“The scales are tipped too heavily in favour of publishers in what should be a framework that enables commercial relationships,” Mr Milner said. Media companies such as News Corp Australia, Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead) and Guardian Australia disagree and consider the laws key to ensuring commercial deals are successful.

Mr Milner said Mr Zuckerberg and the Facebook team had put forward their own amendments to the law but said they remained confidential. He also refuted any suggestion Facebook had failed to make its intentions to block news clear during high level talks with the government.

Mr Frydenberg said he had been given no warning of Facebook’s decision, while local media companies were also blindsided by the move.

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“We’re in the hands of the government,” Mr Milner said. “If the law continues to make it unviable for us to have news on Facebook, there’s no basis on which we can change this.”

“If the law were to change then that creates opportunities for us to feel confident about being able to have news on the service without being unfairly penalised by this law.”

The removal of content also raised concerns about the spread of misinformation particular related to the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s vaccination rollout. Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Korshid said on Friday the decision by Facebook was putting the health of Australians at risk.

Mr Milner said the company remained dedicated to fact-checking and providing accurate information to its users.

“All the stuff to provide good information will stay there and we’ll continue to have our relationship with our third party fact checkers,” he said. “When it comes to COVID-19 and there is an area where there is misinformation…we take that content down and we will continue to do that. The measures we have in place that we take to address misinformation and to provide good information will continue even though that it despite this restriction on on the sharing of news on Facebook.“

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