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Dr. Rai says COVID-19 vaccine sites to operate at full capacity as supply increases

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 8:05 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - More COVID-19 vaccine appointments are set to open up as local vaccinators get a bump in supply from the state of Wisconsin.

“We got our allocation normally on a Tuesday, then on Wednesday they gave us a big bump up. So this will be actually, probably next week, will be our first week that we are actually every site operating at full capacity, which means over 10,000 first shots given next week,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.

Need to make an appointment? CLICK HERE for the First Alert Vaccine Team’s guide to clinics in Northeast Wisconsin.

Dr. Rai joins us Tuesdays and Thursdays on Action 2 News This Morning.

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

ALLERGIES VS. COVID

“It is the season for it, and there’s a lot of overlap symptoms. There are certain things that are just really COVID-specific, like losing taste and smell, some of the high fevers, the GI symptoms, the stomach symptoms that are COVID only. Then there’s a ton of overlap, such as you can cough with allergies if you have a drip down the back of your throat. You could obviously have nasal congestion with allergies as you could with COVID. The most important thing to remember is number one, if any of the symptoms on here are not controlled with your normal allergy medications, you have to get tested. Really, we recommended at least one test even if you think it’s allergies. Make sure it’s not COVID. Treat your allergies like you normally would. If they’re not getting better with the normal treatment, consider visiting with your doctor to see what’s going on.”

INCREASE IN CASES IN NEIGHBOR STATES

“It’s a really big concern if you look at what’s going on in the state of Michigan right now, with cases rising, the one thing Wisconsin has around over surrounding states is we’ve done a really good job with vaccination as a percentage of population. But we are not in the safety zone by any means. Even locally here, we’re starting to see cases rise. This week we saw some hospitalizations rise. Not to an alarming level, but enough to make us to take pause and really remind everybody we need to mask, we need to make sure everybody gets fully vaccinated. This won’t go away. We’ll continue to see these surges. Hopefully we don’t see hospitalization surges or death surges, more importantly, because of the level of vaccination in that 65 and older. But to get through the pandemic totally, we need to get everybody vaccinated. This is not atypical. We’re worried about the variants. Our surrounding states, they’re not that far away, so this is going to come into Wisconsin.”

VACCINES AND EMERGENCY USE

“Emergency Use Authorization is more of a modern invention of the FDA that when you have a critical situation going on in a country, like a pandemic, that there are ways to get life-saving treatments to the public sooner than the normal process. What people don’t understand is that still you have to prove safety and efficacy before they even let you do that. These vaccines, for example, went through all the same trials and phases that any vaccine would normally go through. But the FDA, instead of its kind of long process of different committees discussing it, got to kind of skip that part of the process and go right to “Does it work and is it safe?’ So a lot of the steps in between are skipped. To get full approval, you need the pandemic to be gone. For the pandemic to be gone, you would need the vaccines in everybody. So, to wait until you get ‘full approval’ from the FDA, that won’t happen until the pandemic is gone and they reevaluate things. These vaccines have gone through all the same trials that they should. They’ve been shown to be safe. They’ve been shown to work. So we need to get everybody vaccinated. Just because it carries that EUA moniker to it, doesn’t mean its worse than a regular vaccine.”

INCREASED VACCINE SUPPLY

“We’ve been so busy this week on working on supply and working with the state and getting our schedule set, we didn’t even realize we crossed the 100,000 mark until the day after. One-hundred-thousand shots given at Prevea clinics throughout the state. So we’re really happy with that. Even more happy is last night we found out, we got our allocation normally on a Tuesday, then on Wednesday they gave us a big bump up. So this will be actually, probably next week, will be our first week that we are actually every site operating at full capacity, which means over 10,000 first shots given next week. Really excited about that news. Schedules will open up today and throughout the week so it’s important that you get scheduled, get vaccinated so we can get past this.

“We got all three [vaccines] so that will be the game here in the next hour, so try to get the schedules appropriate. We’ll have it on the website what vaccine’s being given on what day.”

LONG HAUL SYMPTOMS AND VACCINE

A viewer with long haul COVID-19 symptoms wants to know if she can get the vaccine.

“It’s really important there to make sure you’re fully recovered from COVID, so 10 days after the first onset of symptoms, the last 24 hours you’re symptom free. You should get vaccinated. As far as the long haul symptoms, I know there’s a lot out there in the media right now that the vaccine can make the symptoms go away. We don’t know why, but we’re starting to see some of that correlation. A lot more research is needed on that before we can fully say it helps. But it definitely can’t hurt. You should be vaccinated anyway, so 10 days after.”

PREGNANCY AND VACCINE

A pregnant daughter has chosen not to get the vaccine until after the baby’s born. Can grandma visit if she wears a mask?

“So it’s important to understand that as somebody who is pregnant, you are high risk. So there’s a high risk for the mom at that point. There’s even been reports of maternal death, and we’ve witnessed that. There’s risk to the baby through pre-term labor. It’s important to kind of create as tight of a bubble as you can around somebody who is in that pregnancy state, especially as we get to the later stages of pregnancy, so if that woman chooses not to be vaccinated, anybody with her should definitely be distanced and masked, even if that person is vaccinated.”

NO VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS

If you don’t get the side effects, does that mean the vaccine didn’t work or your immune system didn’t respond?

“No, it has nothing to with your immune system. Your body just is responding in a different way. You’re probably going to have just as good of a response as everybody else. It was show in the studies that not everybody has that reactogenicity. Sometimes only 50-to-60 percent of the people get it. So, you’re not abnormal. Your immune system is fine, and the shot is working.”

COVID MYTH - POSITIVE CASES AND VACCINES

A viewer heard a rumor that people who’ve had COVID-19 do not need two doses of vaccine. Is that true?

“Someone is wrong there. You definitely need both shots. It has been studied and looked at that people who’ve previously had COVID maybe only need one, but the science wasn’t strong enough to be approve, so it’s still two shots.”

VACCINE AND SWELLING

A viewer got the first dose of vaccine two weeks ago. After a week, two areas swelled up under her jaw and she experienced tenderness in the armpit area. She’s worried about getting the second dose.

“What you’re experiencing is lymphadenopathy The lymph nodes in the arm and underneath the jaw, when you get mono they swell up, that’s where your lymph nodes are. So it’s important to know that we’ve seen that in the studies. It’s not all that common but it’s also not all that rare. It’s something that we expect to see. It takes about four weeks for it to completely resolve. It shouldn’t affect you getting the second shot. If it’s continuing to be painful and swollen, because it should start to go away, make sure you’re seeing your physician to make sure nothing else is going on at that time. But yes, the vaccine can cause some slight swelling of the lymph nodes of the side of the shot it was given on.”

ASTHMA AND ALLERGIES

A viewer who has been suffering from allergies and asthma has developed a cough. Should she still get the vaccine?

“So, if you are pretty solid that your symptoms are due to your allergies, in other words they get better when you take your allergy medication, but if you’re confident it’s due to your allergies there should be no reason not to get the second shot. If there’s a chance it could be COVID, you should be tested before you get the second shot. Not that you would delay it, but you would need to be quarantined and it could be a couple-day delay.”

INFERTILITY MYTH

A viewer has heard that the COVID-19 vaccine comes with a risk of infertility. Is that true?

“No, it’s not true. It’s actually one of those social media rumors that’s been out there, unfortunately. Somebody related the spike protein that the vaccines go after to some proteins on the reproductive organs. They may look alike in some concepts, but the vaccine’s definitely not aimed towards that or affecting that or the antibodies aren’t, either. People in the trials actually became pregnant during that time period, so we know there’s no fertility issues with the vaccine.”

HOW LONG UNTIL VISITS RESUME?

A viewer wants to know how long after vaccination can they see family and friends?

“So, if it’s a two-shot regiment, so Pfizer and Moderna, you have to wait two weeks after that second shot. If it’s J&J, it’s two weeks after the one shot that you got.”

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