Dr. Rai on double masking recommendations and getting a better fit

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 7:33 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released recommendations on double masking--or wearing two masks at once. Prevea President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai says that guidance is really about making sure your mask fits.

CLICK HERE to read the CDC study on masking.

Dr. Rai demonstrated those recommendations for us on Action 2 News This Morning and answered your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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

PREVIOUS DR. RAI SEGMENTS: https://www.wbay.com/health/drrai/


“I think there’s a misconception around the CDC’s recommendation being around more layers. Yes, more layers do help, they help everybody, so double masking from that perspective, it makes common sense. But really, the research they published yesterday had more to do with fit. So there’s different types of masks we refer to. [Holds up mask] This mask is a medical N-95. The reason why this is so good, not only does it have layers, but this one is fit to my face, is the complete seal. I actually have a size on here that I’m supposed to wear based that it was fit-tested around my mouth.

“Going down a level, there’s the KN95, which these became a lot more available post-COVID. Most come from out of the country. They also provide a really good fit around. They’re not fit tested, but they provide a better fit, and they also have more layers like the N95. It’s important to remember that not all KN95s are made equally. The CDC and the FDA maintains a list, emergency use authorization list, that you can look up the manufacturing and make sure your KN95 is not too much of a knockoff, for lack of a better word.”

“So then you got your normal paper mask. This is a surgical mask, this one happens to have a pattern on it. The paper mask is a three-layer mask, pretty typical, we call it a surgical mask but you see it in clinics as well. And what the CDC was really talking about is when you wear this on its own, it’s good if it has a nose piece in it that you can crimp down--but it’s not great. You still have gaps along the side. It’s not fit perfectly on. But, if you were to add a cloth mask on top, you’re also adding layers, which is good, but more importantly you’re improving the fit around the sides. And that was really what the research was on. They also said there’s a second way to improve that fit without having to need a second mask. I think everyone read that article and got the second mask or two masking and all the issues involved with that--I just want to be very clear: wear a mask. However you do it, wear a mask. But there is a way to get the paper mask to fit better. There’s a demo on the CDC where you basically are going to fold it over, you’re going to tie these ends on both sides and you’re going to tuck the inside and create a better fit. The whole point of the article from the CDC yesterday, the research, was all about a better fit.”


“It’s a huge deal to have the two-week heads up. We’ll be able to open up slots into March now, probably next week when we know. So the two-week heads up is a really good thing. Unfortunately, supply’s still flat, not getting any more. That’s very frustrating to all of us, all of you. As soon as we know we’re going to get more we’ll open up more slots. We just don’t know when that is. Hopefully this Friday we’ll find out what our allocation numbers are and be able to adjust schedules and be able to communicate appropriately. A two-week increment is going to make this a lot easier.”


“I think the CDC is saying you can go up to six weeks for that second shot. That was the point of it. Things happen. A snow storm could happen, a second dose could get delayed, you can go a couple days out. It wasn’t about the fact that we should be moving our architecture or moving our schedules from 21-to-42 or 28-to-42. It’s allowing in cases of emergencies or special situations to go out farther if you need to. But that standard should always be what was researched: 21 days for Pfizer, 28 days for Moderna.”


“Some of our computer glitches were fixed and we got the actual doses correlated with that going on with the state. Remember we were all working very fast to get that fixed. The state did a really good job. The federal program of getting shots in arms for those in nursing homes and assisted living, some of that was sitting on the shelf too long. They interceded, they got other pharmacies involved, got that caught up, got our mass vaccination sites, the larger ones like here in Green Bay or the one in Eau Claire that we opened up, they got us more supply, we were able to get more shots in arms.”


“Today we’ll give shot-one 25,000. So number 25,000 will given of the first shot. Which is really kind of neat for us, because this is also, this year is Prevea’s 25th anniversary. So we’ll celebrate that shot, but actually we celebrate every single shot because it is hope.”


If you get no side effects from the COVID vaccine, does that mean it’s not working?

“I think people get a little overly concerned about, ‘oh, I didn’t have too sore of an arm, or I didn’t have the fever.’ No. That is not an issue. Every single person’s body is going to react differently. Some, they’re not going to have any of those grade effects that we talk about. Some, they’re going to have the whole list. If you have none, that does not mean the vaccine’s not working. It means your body’s immune response is happening, you’re just not feeling it at that time.”


If you’ve had the vaccine, do you need to get tested again?

“We have to remember the vaccine is 95 percent effective, not 100 percent effective. Actually, the other vaccines may be a little less than 95 percent effective. There is a chance you could have a mild case of COVID-19. So yes, if you’re having those symptoms that are really specific for COVID-19, we do recommend you getting tested. And your vaccine will not throw off the test. I think some people think, well I got the vaccine, it will throw off the PCR, the antigen test, those two it won’t throw off.”


A viewer was told to take Tylenol every day for a week before the second shot. Does this help?

“We really don’t recommend any of the pre-dosing or getting ready for the shot by taking any medication. Once again, you want those grade effects. You want your immune system to really respond to it. If you’re having significant soreness, say the next day, a dose of Tylenol probably isn’t going to be hurtful. But nothing beforehand. Let your immune system have that response. Those symptoms will go away.

“I’d probably wait a day, making sure you’re having a really good immune response. Tylenol probably over ibuprofen in this situation, no exact science on that, either way. The best thing to do is just wait it out.”


How do people who are homebound get the COVID-19 vaccine?

“Right now we really don’t have a great solution to that, I’ll be very honest with you, especially given the types of vaccines we have right now and the shortages we have on the vaccine. We need a better plan for those who are homebound, using our home nursing staff so we have a plan if we can get doses and we have enough of them, and maybe a different kind of vaccines that doesn’t require some of the storage issues that we’re running into. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. I would say better solutions happening in the next two-to-four weeks for that population.”


Are there any differences between dose one and dose two?

“So for the two that we have that are two-dose in this country right now, because remember there are going to be other ones that are going to be talked about in the press a lot over the next few weeks, but Moderna and Pfizer, both doses are identical. Same exact type of vial, same exact amount of vaccine that we draw out and inject into the person. They’re both identical.”


A viewer with allergies has been holding off on getting the vaccine. What’s the recommendation?

“If you have a true anaphylactic reaction, bad allergy reaction--couldn’t breathe, throat swelled, those types of things, the hives, all the bad allergy symptoms--from something that’s been injected inside of you, such as a vaccination, we want you to pause, not get the vaccine. We want you to have an appointment with your primary care doctor or even better, an allergist. Have that whole history looked at. We’re going to watch you a little bit longer when you get the vaccine. But you likely will be approved to get it.”


A viewer had COVID in November and lost taste and smell. Those senses are still not back. What should she do?

“We call it the COVID recovery clinic. If you’re really talking about taste and smell, people can go months, unfortunately, and there’s been people in the literature that have gone a little longer than three months. There is some new literature and studies being done on re-training the smell. Finding certain things for them to smell and re-training that over time to try to get that back, just like we would in somebody who’s had a significant stroke or head trauma--same exact theories on trying to get that smell and taste back.

“In a trauma situation, in some of those situations, it can be forever damaged. We’re hoping that doesn’t happen here with COVID-19. We only have 11 months of experience. We’ll continue to work on the re-training and see how that goes.”


If you test positive for antibodies, should you get the vaccine, or are you already protected?

“You really aren’t. You should get it, just like the CDC has said, if you’ve had COVID-19, which is why you’ve tested positive for antibodies, either had an asymptomatic or a mild infection, or you knew you had it and got antibody tested after, still the recommendation after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 to get the vaccine.”


A viewer has an auto-immune disorder. Should she still get the vaccine?

“There should be no reason she shouldn’t do it. If you have concerns, obviously, always talk to your own personal physician, but most auto-immune disorders aren’t going to cause you to have any type of adverse reaction that you normally wouldn’t have with this vaccine. You’re going to have those grade effects, nothing worse, nothing better.”

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