Dr. Rai: Data shows vaccine prevents spread of COVID-19

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 9:16 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - There’s another reason to get vaccinated against COVID-19: data shows it prevents the spread of the virus.

“I think the original motivation that people would say is ‘I want to protect myself.’ Which is right, we want everybody to be healthy. Some people would say, ‘I don’t need the vaccine because I’m going to do fine with COVID.’ Probably not the right attitude, but now even more, you get vaccinated not only for yourself, but you get vaccinated for everybody you love,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.

Dr. Rai joins us Tuesdays and Thursdays (He will not be in on Thursday, April 1) on Action 2 News This Morning. Have a question? Email news@wbay.com

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


Prevea Health has opened a vaccination clinic at UW Green Bay Manitowoc Campus.

“Yesterday we opened up our UWGB Manitowoc site, so very excited about that. That’s our fourth UWGB site. It’s been a great partnership with the entire UW System. You can see some pictures here where you check in and get vaccinated combined. We’ll take care of as many patients as we can and keep growing this site as vaccine supply allows for it.”


“This last week’s allocation is what I’d call really healthy. It got us up to capacity and there’s actually still slots left to be vaccinated this week if you choose to log on today. Going into next week, we’ll find out tomorrow morning, probably mid morning, what the following week will look like, but all indications from the state and the federal government is it will be another healthy allocation and we can keep ramping up and ramping up.”


“I’d say our concern is pretty high, especially around the UK variant, or B.1.1.7. We’ve seen it in the state of Michigan, we’ve seen it in Wisconsin, and as of yesterday, we now have it in Brown County proven, too. Those are always concerning things, and really the only way to get through this, whether it’s B.1.1.7 or another variant or the COVID we’ve always known, is to do all the safety precautions we can until we get everybody vaccinated. I think that news about it being in Brown County yesterday hopefully will drive more people to understand how serious this is and we need to get everybody vaccinated as fast as we can.

“I think what’s probably the most concerning about the one that we’re seeing now here, in Michigan, in Wisconsin and throughout the United States, is it spreads faster. I think if we went back to last March and we were shocked at how fast the COVID that we were seeing at that point, the variant that we were seeing at that point, the wild type, spread very, very fast. This one spreads even faster, which is shocking to us. That’s why those protective measures are necessary, that’s why vaccines are necessary. Hopefully, we won’t see another surge if we do all the right things now.

“We getting data on both sides right now. We’re getting good news and concerning news, and I think that is confusing to the public. So yes, having the variants here and the surges that we’re seeing around, especially in the state of Michigan right next to us is concerning. But we’re also getting some good news around data, around the vaccine as well, and really wanting us to make sure that we’re talking about the vaccine even more. That data from the CDC that just came out in the last 24 hours shows that not only was the vaccine--as we proved in the earlier trials--really good at preventing death and serious infection, but what we’ve seen more recently now, because we’ve been able to give a lot of vaccine and we’ve been able to track it for awhile now, is that it actually prevented infection, which is important. You might have thought that was an end point the first time. Why is that so important? Because it’s preventing asymptomatic infection, which means it is preventing spread. No vaccine is 100 percent. We’re looking at 80-90 percent levels here. The fact that we know the vaccine is preventing spread is great news, but even a bigger reason to get vaccinated right now.

“I think the original motivation that people would say is ‘I want to protect myself.’ Which is right, we want everybody to be healthy. Some people would say, ‘I don’t need the vaccine because I’m going to do fine with COVID.’ Probably not the right attitude, but now even more, you get vaccinated not only for yourself, but you get vaccinated for everybody you love. Because we have proof you’re going to prevent it from spreading. You’re not going to give it to your children, your parents.”


“I think we’re at that point now where there’s a lot of stressful news but there’s also really good news. As we start to look at the nursing home and assisted living environment, now that visitors are allowed back in a small period of time, and having one of my patients be able to see his granddaughter again, who is a grown adult and vaccinated, to be able to be near her grandfather again, those are the types of stories that we want to keep repeating and repeating and repeating over this coming month, because are getting better, we just need to do the right thing.”


A viewer wants to know why assisted living facility workers are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“So I think the key question there is required. Obviously it’s highly recommended. We continue to offer it to staff, and we’ve had a really good uptake among staff to get vaccinated. The requirements are a little tricky right now. I would say it’s not required at this time. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be required in the future. Under the current emergency use authorization with the FDA, the requirement aspect is a little tricky for an employer, so we can’t at this point. But I’m not saying that in the future it won’t be required.”


If employers recommend their workers get the shot and they refuse, would that be a violation of HIPPA?

“That’s another tricky question, probably best for a lawyer, not a doctor, but I’ll try my best at it. Recommending getting the vaccine is not a violation of HIPPA. It’s just a recommendation from an employer that it’s going to be good for you in the workplace to get it. Asking you if you’ve had it or not is not a violation. Asking you why you didn’t get it could be a violation. That’s where an employer would probably stop.”


A viewer who had Bell’s palsy 26 years ago is scared the vaccine will trigger another bout.

“If your Bell’s palsy wasn’t due to an injection at that time, which is probably less likely, when we looked at the data regarding Bell’s palsy and this vaccine, actually just as much happened in the placebo arm, those who actually didn’t get the real vaccine as they did in the actual vaccine arm, and more importantly it was about the same percentage of people getting it that weren’t even part of the trial, the normal percentage of it. So there should be no risk in you getting the vaccine and having a recurrence of that at this time.”


An article has been spreading online that COVID-19 vaccines are made of “aborted fetuses.”

“It’s a little different for every vaccine. So when we’re talking about Moderna and Pfizer, there is a cell line that was used that was decades old that came from an aborted fetus to test the vaccine, not create the vaccine. So that’s why those that have put out publications like this, like the Catholic church, have said they’ve got no moral obligation to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, once again, we’re talking about cell lines that are decades old. One of those cell lines was used in part of the production of that vaccine. Once again, not to always refer to the Catholic church, but they’ve put out a good paper on this one, saying that if you have a choice pick Moderna and Pfizer, if you don’t have a choice take the vaccine that is available to you, because all three are good vaccines.”


Should people avoid taking ibuprofen after getting the vaccine?

“Probably the only shouldn’t that we really say is there’s no reason to pre-medicate. There’s no reason to take it before you come in. See how you do with it. Give it a day or so. If the symptoms after 24 hours, even 48 hours are still there, you’re still a little sore, maybe a slight fever, it’s OK to take ibuprofen or Tylenol at that point. Definitely don’t take it before you have the vaccine. And give it some time. The symptoms are usually very mild and most people get better on their own.”


What should people do when they want to visit family and friends who refuse the vaccine?

“It’s going to be really difficult for the next few months and probably until the end of summer to answer that question to plan a gathering, because there’s still going to be at-risk situations. It’s great that you’ve been vaccinated. Hopefully you can educate your family members and your friends to get vaccinated. This doesn’t work if only some of us get vaccinated. We really need a large percentage of the population to be vaccinated so we can do what you just asked us to do, to gather, to get together. Having everybody safe is going to be important. As we see more and more data, it’s much better to get vaccinated.”


Are the current vaccines effective against COVID-19 variants? Will we need a booster?

“Two part question there. Are they effective? What we’ve seen in different countries where the variants are little bit more prominent and the vaccine has been distributed prominently, is it still prevents against death and serious infection, which is really important, so that end point is protected. As far as a booster goes, that’s data that we won’t know for some months, if not even over a year, if we’re going to need another shot or not. Likely, if we can actually prevent death from happening, prevent the virus from spreading, it won’t be an issue. But it could be, and we won’t know that for awhile.”

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