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Dr. Rai on when 1C can start signing up for COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 7:39 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE:

After the Dr. Rai broadcast on Action 2 News This Morning, the state of Wisconsin announced it was moving up the medical condition vaccine eligibility date to March 22, one week ahead of schedule. The videos in this story mention the original date of March 29. We’re leaving the videos up because they contain important information for viewers about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

CLICK HERE to see if you’re eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin.

Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai joins us Tuesdays and Thursdays on Action 2 News This Morning. Have a question? Email news@wbay.com

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

TEACHER ALLOCATIONS

“Today is the official day that we get the allocation for educators to go for the next two weeks. So at Prevea we wanted to celebrate our educators in our community, so we made it school spirit week. So today, N.E.W. Lutheran High School where my son goes to school, I’ll have another one on Thursday, but this entire week every day we’ll be giving a shout out to different schools.

“In Brown County, all of us got assigned different school districts and enough vaccine to vaccinate the teachers. So by the end of March, which starts today until the next two weeks, we should be good.”

JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE ARRIVES

“We weren’t expecting it. We got a call on Friday from the state: ‘How much could you use?’ We gave them a number and they gave us that number. That’s really exciting because some of that we’re going to set aside for our homebound patients. Just a very small amount, but try to get to our homebound patients across the state. The rest, you know, to try to make sure the rest of 1B gets done. So our 65 and olders are our priority. How do we get them to the 80 percent mark? How do we get the rest of 1B done before 1C starts? So that was a great surprise. Schedules are open. I looked before we went on the air and appointments are available.”

HOMEBOUND PATIENTS

“Honestly we’ve struggled with that because of the other vaccines and how hard it is to do the homebound. For some of the homebound, it’s really a transportation issue. So we’re working through that. For some, we just need to go to them. It’s a very small percentage of the population, but we still need to solve for that. Working through solving for that, and now we have a solution, so it was really a nice surprise.”

HOW SOON UNTIL NEXT GROUP CAN SIGN UP?

People with certain medical conditions will be eligible on March 29. When can they sign up?

“It’s a great question, because it’s really depending on when we get the vaccine. Tomorrow we’ll get our allocation for the following week. So our week starts on a Wednesday and ends on a Tuesday. Schedules open up on a Monday. So next Monday, the 22nd of March, you can sign up for the 29th. Those that are eligible for 1C can at least start on the 22nd of March, but that won’t be the last time we open up doses. Two million people to do on this side of the state. It’s not going to happen overnight, so let’s be patient.”

ASTRAZENECA VACCINE

Several European countries have stopped giving the AstraZeneca vaccine after 37 people reported blood clots.

“I think the scientists are doing the right thing. When you start to correlate some issues with a medication, you hit pause and look into it. That’s what a lot of the European countries are doing. They’re pausing and looking into it. I think it’s really important to understand that in the United States we haven’t had a significant amount of data to review, formally, for approval so it’s not approved in the U.S. They will look at the data that’s coming out of Europe now that it’s out of trials and as we say, in the wild, so we’ll look at that data as well, and that will have to be presented to the FDA. It may or may not be approved in the United States based on what they’re seeing. I think it’s too early to say one way or the other. They are finding, once again, they’re looking at people who’ve had a blood clot, and now they’re going to look at everybody who didn’t get the vaccine and look at the percentage of blood clots in society, and say, ‘oh, it’s about the same.’ Or ‘no, we’re starting to see a higher incidence.’ And then they’ll pause.”

VACCINES AND LOSS OF SENSES

A viewer who completed her vaccine series says she lost her sense of taste. Is that common?

“It sounds like in between your two shots you developed COVID symptoms, which can happen. Remember, you’re not fully protected until two weeks after that second shot. It sounds like your symptoms were before that. There’s a likelihood with that symptom that you actually could have COVID, a very mild case of it. We would recommend getting testing if it’s within 10 days of that symptom onset. Either way, we would recommend you being tested and following up with your provider. It’s important to remember that you’re not fully protected until two weeks after that second shot. So if you have COVID symptoms in between, get tested.”

LETTING OTHERS GO FIRST

A viewer with chronic medical conditions who lives alone and doesn’t go out much wonders if she should wait to get the vaccine and let others go first.

“I think we all appreciate that sentiment, but when you are eligible you should sign up to get vaccinated. That is whether you’re in the next class of 1C, or more importantly if you’re 65 or older right now, or if you’re in the 1A or 1B classifications, now is your time. Whenever you’re eligible is your time. The process was designed for that. If you wait, it wasn’t designed for that. For example, you’re a 1B right now and you wait too long and 1C comes along, it’s going to be a lot harder for you to get into an appointment. If 1C comes along and you get an appointment, get it when you can.”

SOCIAL MEDIA MISINFORMATION

Rumors on social media say COVID vaccines cause infertility. Dr. Rai says that’s not true.

“Well, talk to your doctor, not Facebook, first of all. There was some concern on social media, not amongst the medical profession, that the spike protein that this vaccine is designed to make sure your body can protect itself, is similar to a protein that may be part of the reproductive organs of a female. But it’s not so similar that your immune system is going to react to it in any way. People actually became pregnant during the trials and people are becoming pregnant after receiving the vaccine, so fertility is not an issue. Both male and female, there’s been a lot of misinformation on that, so we want to make sure that people know that and to understand to have that conversation with your provider.”

HEALTH INSURANCE AND VACCINATIONS

Can people without health insurance get the vaccine at no charge?

“If you have health insurance, we will take that information. It’s a requirement from the federal government. It’s how you pay for the vaccination but you don’t pay for it. The government has worked this out with the insurance companies to make sure the administrative fee is covered. It’s a small fee that’s covered. If you don’t have insurance, we have a different way to go to the government for that administrative fee. So whether you have insurance or don’t have insurance, please come in and get vaccinated. If you have insurance, you’ll provide your card. If you don’t, we’re going to give you a shot.”

VACCINE EFFECTS

Are there any numbers on effects from the vaccine?

“Depending on the studies, when you look at the time period of the studies, and as we’re seeing in the wild, once again, some of those effects you’re seeing 50 percent of the time, some you’re seeing 60 percent of the time. The most important number to remember, though, when we’re talking about whether it’s that sore arm, that fever, that headache, is that 100 percent of the time they resolve within a couple of days. So yes, about half the people or maybe sometimes more than half the people are going to feel some effects after receiving the vaccine, that’s good that your immune system is working. One hundred percent of the people get better.”

VACCINE AND PLASMA DONATIONS

Do vaccinated people who donate plasma have antibodies to help other COVID patients?

“I think that’s up to the blood bank people right now and how they’re analyzing it and being studied right now. There’s no guarantee to that. But they are going to ask about your vaccination status, your infection status, and then they’re going to test your blood to see if you have the antibody component that they need to donate the plasma.”

THREE FEET IN SCHOOLS

Some health officials say it’s OK to have three feet of social distancing in schools.

“You know, I can’t argue with the CDC, so number one, if you want to follow those recommendations, please do so. But if your school is set up and in person for six feet, and we’re still in the process of vaccinating teachers, especially this week, I wouldn’t change anything. There’s no reason to change it. It’s already set up and you’re working. If you’re having issues maintaining that, I think that’s what the CDC is saying, there could be some guidance to help you to at least be in person, in protection. Really, if your infrastructure is set up for six feet, stay with six feet. School doesn’t have that much longer left.”

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