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Dr. Rai: COVID-19 vaccine supply is plentiful, teams headed to rural areas

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 7:41 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Local vaccine clinics have an ample amount of COVID-19 vaccine, so much so they’re now traveling to rural areas to get shots in arms.

“Really, right now there’s no reason for you not to sign up for an appointment and get one scheduled,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President & CEO of Prevea Health. “What that also lets us do, that level of supply, is to start thinking bigger than what we have been thinking. We’ve been talking about these really large sites like at UWGB. I’m pretty excited tomorrow we get to go to Niagara, Wisconsin with J&J, and our team will take the show on the road, literally.”

Dr. 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/

Looking for a vaccine clinic near you? CLICK HERE for the First Alert Vaccine Team guide to making an appointment.

SPORTS AND STADIUM CAPACITY

The Texas Rangers allow full capacity at their home games. Masking is not required.

“We’ve said this since last year about opening up to do normal things. Everything should be done in phases, kind of like what we do here in the state of Wisconsin. Ten percent, 25 percent, 50 percent capacity and then see what happens to the case rate. Obviously, Texas has chosen a different route. Forty-thousands people in a stadium not masking all that well, that’s concerning. It’s outside so there’s some mitigating aspects to that. There’s also indoor aspects to that stadium, too. So you worry about it, you hope you don’t start to see significant spread. You also hope this is an isolated situation in Texas and not everybody tries to do this, because we’re not ready for that completely. You look at what’s happening in neighboring states, we’re not ready for it.”

DOUBLE VARIANT

“The double variant aspect--and I think it’s a scary term so we should just kind of decide that it’s a different way to describe how the variants represent themselves--a double variant means that two variants exist within that new version of the virus, both of which helps that virus infect you a little bit more. Kind of like combining the UK variant and the Brazilian variant and having them both happen on the same spike protein. It could make it more contagious, but it doesn’t mean it’s worse than a single variant situation. That hasn’t been proven yet. That would be kind of stretching it, but it’s a scary term. So far, we don’t have any proof of how the vaccines work or not work against it, so I think just patience and understanding. Understanding that to prevent that from happening, we need more people vaccinated and keep people masked until we can take them off.”

TEEN VACCINE PROCESS

“If you’re 16 or 17, or you’re a parent of a 16-or-17-year-old, understand that’s still a minor. It takes a parent to give consent. Instead of online scheduling with us, for example, you’d have to call. It’s recommend for definitely the first shot--hopefully for both shots--that a parent is present. At least for the first shot it’s recommended to give that consent that a parent be there.”

VACCINE SUPPLY

“It’s been a long time. We’ve been talking about how much vaccine have you gotten since December and then January and then some weeks not having as much as we would like knowing the demand was there. This week just as a Prevea perspective, we got enough supply to be at capacity across the state. That’s only the second time that has happened. That’s over 12,000 first doses in a week we get to deliver. We even got more yesterday. Really, right now there’s no reason for you not to sign up for an appointment and get one scheduled. What that also lets us do, that level of supply, is to start thinking bigger than what we have been thinking. We’ve been talking about these really large sites like at UWGB. I’m pretty excited tomorrow [April 7] we get to go to Niagara, Wisconsin with J&J, and our team will take the show on the road, literally. It’s hard, because if you think about the driving distances in some counties, even if you have a site in a specific county like Marinette County, that’s a super-long drive to Niagara. So we’re going to take the vaccine to them. If you’re in Niagara, sign up. We will want to keep doing this until everybody has an opportunity to be vaccinated.”

Make an appointment in Niagara or other Prevea clinics: https://www.prevea.com/For-Patients/COVID-19-Vaccine-Resources

NATURAL IMMUNITY

A viewer wants to know the best vaccine for someone who had COVID-19 months ago. How long does natural immunity last?

“The most important answer there is the vaccine you can get. There’s not a vaccine brand that would be recommended that’s better after getting COVID. Really, all you have to wait after getting COVID is that 10-day recovery time that we talk about. Then the recommendation from the CDC and throughout health care is to get the vaccine right away. That way you’ll have a better type of immunity than the natural immunity given from COVID. Any vaccine after that 10th day.”

TAKING IBUPROFEN OR TYLENOL AFTER VACCINE

A viewer says she was given instructions to take an over-the-counter medication if she was experiencing effects from the vaccine. Is that correct?

“I know it’s been a little confusing. First of all, nothing before. Nothing before you’ve had a symptom. So don’t pre-treat yourself. See what kind of side effects--or grade effects as we like to call them--that you’re going to have, such as that fever, chill or headache. Remember, it’s going to go away in a day or two. If you can’t tolerate it, say after 24 hours, then taking Tylenol or ibuprofen would be OK. Give it some time. Definitely nothing before.”

ALLERGIES

A viewer who is allergic to the flu shot wants to know if it is safe to get the Pfizer vaccine.

“Any time you’re allergic to anything we inject in you, whether it be the flu shot, the shingles shot, any type of medication that’s been injected in you, our recommendation is to see an allergist before you get the COVID vaccine. Not that there’s a huge amount of crossover or any crossover, but it’s good to have that looked at. Then we may watch you instead of 15 minutes, for 30 minutes after the allergist has cleared you to come see us.”

LAMINATING VACCINE CARDS

Is it a good idea to get your COVID-19 vaccine card laminated?

“The booster shot is a possibility that we don’t know about, but that’s not really the reason not get to get laminated right now. A lot of us, unfortunately, use a heat printer to create the label that goes on top of the card. When you laminate it, it turns all black. We’ve had some situations. We recommend you not getting it laminated if you have a sticker on there that was generated from a heat printer. I know people are really worried about losing the card or having it with them all the time. Understand, especially in the state of Wisconsin, there’s a Wisconsin Immunization Registry where you can enter your own personal information and get your vaccine record. Or, if you’re one of our patients, you can go right on your MyPrevea app and find it as well.”

COVID VACCINE PASSPORTS

What does Dr. Rai think about proposed COVID-19 vaccine passports to get into certain events?

“I’m not sure if what I think counts in this situation. I think it’s going to be what more people think from a legal standpoint, etc. I do believe there’s going to be countries and destinations that are going to require proof of vaccination. That’s just their right. We actually require immunizations for people to get visas here for certain diseases as well. When it comes to entering a venue or going to an event, that’s usually a private event, it’s not a state-sponsored event, it’s a private company and they can create their own rules. If they want to create an environment people feel safe going into by saying everybody here is vaccinated, that’s their right. You may see some of that to attract people into situations. Maybe they’ve been home for a long time, they’re finally vaccinated, they’re still nervous, they want to go to a safe place. They may be able to attract people. They may set that up.”

HERD IMMUNITY

Will we achieve herd immunity in Brown County, even if other counties don’t reach that goal?

“We don’t have a big wall around Brown County, so it’s hard to say that would be achieved. Really, what you’re looking at is that vaccination rate across the country, if not the world, to get to the end of the pandemic. Now, the pandemic will have different phases. It may become endemic, in other words certain areas where it’s thriving because people are not vaccinated and other areas where it’s nonexistent because people are vaccinated. You definitely want to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated. To say that 80 percent in Brown County is going to suddenly lead to a change in Brown County, no. We’re surrounded by so many people and there’s so much commuting going on in the United States that wouldn’t be practical.”

TESTING

A viewer has an out-of-state surgery. Where can she get a COVID-19 test that will guarantee same-day or within 24 hours. Will a rapid test be OK?

“Our testing sites will remain open, but most people pre-operatively will want a PCR test, not the rapid antigen test. The rapid antigen test was used in screening when we had larger amounts of the disease. We don’t have that right now. Really looking for the PCR test. Almost every health care provider in town can get you that PCR test done in house now, for a smaller number of patients, not for the whole community, and to get you to your surgery. If you’re getting tested to have surgery done, somebody should be able to accommodate you. The testing sites are going to continue to remain open. They may not be open eight hours a day like they used it, but they should still be open. So make sure you have a conversation with your local health care provider to get that test before your out-of-state surgery.”

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