“Not time to lay up protection of our children”: Dr. Rai talks variants, schools and masking
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As COVID-19 variants spread in Wisconsin, there’s concern about rising cases among young people.
People age 10-19 make up 11.8 percent of confirmed cases in Wisconsin. People age 20-29 make up 18.7 percent of confirmed cases. That age group is leading the state right now.
Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai says it’s not yet time to roll back masking efforts in our schools. He’s also encouraging younger people to get vaccinated.
“We’ve got a month or two left of school. This is not the time to lay up on mitigation. The CDC has definitely not recommended it. We’re not in a safe spot. Especially in the state of Wisconsin, where we’re starting to see that new variant, that UK variant that has taken over Michigan, now coming into Wisconsin, really focuses on that younger population. In the state, we’re also concerned about that disease that effects kids months after COVID. We’re starting to an increase, prevalence of that. So now is definitely not the time to lay up protection of our children.”
Dr. Rai now joins us Wednesdays on Action 2 News This Morning. Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous Dr. Rai segments: https://www.wbay.com/health/drrai/
SCHOOLS AND MASKING
Some schools have rolled back mask requirements.
“I think we all want to get to a point where we’re not wearing a mask. That’s a goal, it’s one of those victory points with vaccination, right. We’ve got a month or two left of school. This is not the time to lay up on mitigation. The CDC has definitely not recommended it. We’re not in a safe spot. Especially in the state of Wisconsin, where we’re starting to see that new variant, that UK variant that has taken over Michigan, now coming into Wisconsin, really focuses on that younger population. In the state, we’re also concerned about that disease that affects kids months after COVID. We’re starting to an increase, prevalence of that. So now is definitely not the time to lay up protection of our children.”
Has the pause on Johnson & Johnson impacted the number of people willing to get vaccinated?
“I think there is some, and it’s due to some facts out there that are appropriate and some facts out there that are just not right. I think with the J&J pause, that’s what the system was designed to do. When you spot even a minor problem, which this was, looking at one in a million, and we don’t know what the final statistic will be until we see how people have done two weeks after the last shot given. So is it one in a million or is it slightly ballpark around that number? The system was designed to do that. People get concerned around that. They should be, but it’s important to understand when we talk about hesitancy to get the facts right. The J&J vaccine had an issue that’s being looked at appropriately. The other two vaccines, 100 million-plus doses given, no issues at all, nothing similar to what we’re seeing with J&J. There shouldn’t be an overall hesitancy, but we’re going to start to see some around J&J right now.”
WISCONSIN VACCINE TRENDS
“We’ve done a great job with those 65 and older and we’re doing a great job at 55 and older here, too. But as we start to get that under 50 crowd, as we start to into the 20s and 30s and 40s, we’re not at the point where we need to be. We’re definitely not there with 16 and 17. If you were to talk to me eight months ago about this I’d be really ecstatic that those that were getting to the hospital were immunized. But now that we looked at the variants and we looked at the UK variant and what it’s doing to the state of Michigan, it’s that younger population that’s getting into the hospital now. It’s the younger population that’s getting sick right now with this new variant. We know the vaccine works really well right now against that variant. What we need to do is vaccinate before it becomes a problem. Vaccinating in the surge, like Michigan was calling for more doses, that’s too late. We need to get to work right now on that age group very aggressively.
“A lot of people think because they’ve got great immunity they don’t need to get vaccinated. To be honest with you, if you’ve got great immunity, you’re the one who should be vaccinated. The vaccine gives that immune system a target to go to. It prevents you from getting infected. Having great immunity and not having a vaccine, means you’re still going to get infected. You’re likely going to get over COVID, but you still got infected, you could have the long-term effects. Getting vaccinated gives you a target.
“I think the other group that I really worry about in this age group are those who already had COVID not thinking they need a vaccine. And it’s true, if you’ve already had COVID there’s a level of immunity you’re going to have. We’re talking about getting vaccinated to have that better level of immunity, especially against the variants, to prevent you from getting sick again. I think there’s a crowd out there that doesn’t quite understand the facts, that are younger, and they just need to be talked to over and over and over again.”
UWGB WALK INS
“I look at this as phase three. Phase one was in the hospital, get the hospital staff, medical workers, EMTs vaccinated and we did that. Then mass vaccination to get a big population vaccinated as quickly as possible that were most at risk: our 65 and older, those with underlying chronic diseases, those that are in education. Now it’s everybody else. We have to keep making it easier to get vaccinated. That wasn’t easy in January because we didn’t have vaccine. Now we have plenty of vaccine, we want to make it easier. Starting today, you can go to UWGB, you can go to prevea.com/vaccine and you can see when we have walk-in times. Don’t need to make an appointment. Need to get vaccinated today? Please come in today.”
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