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Dr. Rai: UWGB site to start COVID vaccinations for eligible groups on Jan. 18

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 7:44 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Police, fire and dental workers will be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations Monday at the new site located on the campus of UW-Green Bay.

“As of January 18, we’re allowed to immunize fire and police, so they’ll be coming in Monday throughout the week, as well as other people that are in that category 1A, health care, dental, dental hygienists, all can be able to book at UWGB next week,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President & CEO of Prevea Health.

Dr. Rai joined us Thursday on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about the next vaccine phase groups, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that new variant in Wisconsin.

Dr. Rai joins us Tuesdays and Thursdays. Have a question? Email news@wbay.com

Previous Dr. Rai segments: https://www.wbay.com/health/drrai/

VACCINES TO START AT UWGB CLINIC

On Jan. 18, local police, and EMS will start getting vaccinations at the clinic located at UW-Green Bay.

“We’re very excited. We knew to do this right you needed to continue to get bigger, scale up, scale up. UWGB will be one of our four sites in the state of Wisconsin where we have scaled up significantly. And yes, as of January 18, we’re allowed to immunize fire and police, so they’ll be coming in Monday throughout the week, as well as other people that are in that category 1A, health care, dental, dental hygienists, all can be able to book at UWGB next week.

“Next week, start slow, keep growing it as we scale. Even that slow is over 2,000 shots next week.

“When it’s fully running, because you can’t go to full tilt for about 21 days because you have to have capacity to do that second shot, so it will be over 10,000 shots a week when it’s at full capacity in a few weeks.

“To do 10,000 a week, and keeping that going and replicating that in other areas of the state, that’s our goal is to get as many shots in arms as we’re allowed to do.”

FEDERAL AND STATE RECOMMENDATIONS

“Tuesday we had a thought process to wait to wait for the state committee--SDMAC--to tell us who 1B will be and then to approve that, we were thinking it would be the middle of next week, maybe by the 21st, they would do that. And then the federal government came out and said, ‘well, hold on, time out, we want everybody to do everyone over the age of 65 and then medical conditions, and we’ll give you more vaccine to do it.’ So the state’s now looking at, well how are we going to get more vaccine and what is that number, before they decide to do it. Other states have triggered 65-and-over. We don’t know if Wisconsin will or not. It’s basically, hour-by-hour, we’re just waiting to understand if that’s going to happen. If they do, we’re ready to roll.”

BIGGER IS BETTER

“As we learn more about vaccination and we learn more about how many people we have to vaccinate, and we start to look at processes, and this vaccine in itself, being a little more sensitive, how it’s drawn up, that it expires, has to be used by the end of the day--all of those factors come into play. It’s a lot easier to do this at scale at one big--or four big sites for us--and then for other health systems to pick a site and just run versus trying to squeeze a patient in between normal patients in a clinic. We have over 100 sites we provide care at, but that means distributing the methodology 100 times versus doing it in really big ways. So for the initial surge of vaccinations, for the foreseeable, say four-to-six months, you got to go big.”

JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE

“It’s vehicle to get inside your body is actually using another virus--an adenovirus--to get inside, which is not that uncommon for vaccines. It’s been tried before and done, so it’s not like it’s super new technology. It’s using DNA instead of mRNA to go inside, and once again create that immune reaction. What we’re really waiting for, we’re hoping next week we’ll start to see some of the research out of that. What’s its efficacy? What’s its safety profile? The efficacy and safety profile are the two biggest things that we need to know about. Yes, it’s one shot. Makes it a lot easier to do. You can store it in a regular medical refrigerator at a certain temperature with an alarm on it. We have a lot more of those than we do the deep freezers. So there’s a lot of good things about it. None of it really matters until we know it’s safe and if it’s efficacious. We really like this 95-percent efficacy from mRNA. We want everybody to have that level of protection going forward. So that’s a high bar for J&J to hit. Hopefully they hit it.”

COVID VARIANT IN WISCONSIN

“The fact that we had a strain that was more contagious was always more alarming. We know it doesn’t cause more severe illness, so that’s a good thing. We also know the vaccine is thought to be effective against it. That’s good news. The way it spreads, though, is very scary. If it’s in the state of Wisconsin, we’ve got to outpace it. We’ve got to mask. We’ve got to physically distance. And we got to get vaccines going as quickly as possible.”

GROCERY WORKERS AND VACCINE

Are grocery workers in the 1B group for vaccinations?

“All we have right now is a draft, so anything I say could get changed today, or actually tomorrow morning, and next week. But they looked at frontline essential workers, and because there are so many in that category that could fall into that, they had to narrow it down so this process could keep going faster. So the draft does not have grocery workers on it. That could change. What’s on that draft for frontline, really is law enforcement and fire, health care workers outside of direct care, a couple of other smaller categories are included in there. Manufacturing is not in there. Groceries not in there. Still not finalized, though. Teachers are in there and those that are doing education are. Really from pre-school, day care, K-12, and higher education are on there. That’s a pretty big group of people in the state of Wisconsin. That’s why they had to narrow it down and not everybody who’s essential is on there. The goal is, once again, to go through these as quick as possible and have a good amount of overlap. So you never know when they’re going to turn 1B on. Hopefully soon. And then 1C.

“Obviously very essential to us [Grocery workers] and high risk in a sense of their interaction with the community. Once again, they’re weighing that risk and they’re weighing the amount of encounters, and then how much vaccine we have and the capability of getting those shots in arms. All of that math goes into that list.”

BLOOD DONATIONS

Does giving blood impact when you can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

“It shouldn’t effect you getting the vaccine at all. And then after you get the vaccine, especially after the second dose, and you’ve got that one-to-two weeks after that, no problem giving it after that.”

VACCINE STUDY

COVID vaccines are considered about 95 percent effective. Did the study include people who were wearing masks?

“Remember, there’s two groups of people that were getting injections during that time period. So we’re comparing two groups that should have been doing, basically, the same behaviors. Masks, everything they should be doing. And they’re randomized. So they don’t know if I should wear a mask, not wear a mask because of what I’m getting put in my arm. You didn’t know if you got the actual vaccine or if you got the placebo, or essentially water, put into your arm. So both groups would have been wearing masks or had the equivalent amount of people that didn’t wear masks. So that 95 percent is true, and it’s something we should really pay attention to, because that’s a really great number.”

1B AND CONGREGANT SETTINGS

Will people who visit those in congregant settings or need care in congregant settings be part of the 1B vaccine group?

“So when they looked at the congregant setting question here on the draft, which actually was, once again, a large group of people in the state of Wisconsin, adult group homes, overnight-type homes, there are two types of people that visit there: there are people that have outpatient therapy that visit there and people who work there. The people who work there were definitely called out for the vaccination. But you would think about that same theory applying to those who need care who need to go into those settings, especially on a regular basis. What we’re trying to do is prevent the outbreak and keep the people in the congregant settings safe. So the in-and-out and the people around that, you want to keep safe, as well.”

VACCINE WAIT PERIOD

If you are currently infected with COVID-19, how long do you have to wait to get the vaccine?

“Until you’re recovered from COVID. Generally, we consider that recovery period 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or 10 days from your positive test if you never had symptoms. You have to remember, that last day, that last 24 hours, we want the majority of your major symptoms; the fevers, the cough, the shortness of breath, to be gone to be considered recovered. So day 11, you’re feeling great, you could get that vaccine. So it’s after you’ve recovered from COVID-19. That’s the only magic number there is in 30 days, in 45 days, in 90 days, after that. The CDC has recommended that after you’ve recovered from COVID that you still get the vaccine.”

WHEN WILL I KNOW?

How will you find out when you are eligible for a vaccine? Will someone contact you?

“Not likely, because there’s no magic list. Because we’d have to put that list together right away, knowing what is being approved, and then being able to accurately do that through the computer systems. Now, for age lists, like, such as we’re going to do 65-or-older or 70-or-older, that’s a lot easier and your health care provider would likely send some sort of letter out or an email or however we’ll communicate it. I think it’s platforms like this and other platforms that you need to pay attention to where you’ll know that, OK, it’s time for this category of patients to go. And then there is no list. You’ll just be able to sign up, get your vaccine. You will have to attest that, ‘I work in a congregant setting’, ‘I am over the age of 65’--that one’s a little easier since we have driver’s licenses for it. But the rest will actually have to sign off and say to the state and to us, ‘I fall into this category legally and I can get the vaccine.’ So that’s the process right now.

“Wisconsin DHS website has that information and your public health officers have that information and your health care provider has that information and we have that information. So a lot of different sources you’ll get that from.”

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