Dr. Rai: Need more people vaccinated to have a normal summer

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 7:41 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The COVID-19 vaccine strategy is shifting from mass clinic sites to bringing shots to schools, employers and community centers.

“Instead of bringing the arm to the needle, bringing the needle to the arm. Bringing it to every single one of our clinics, bringing to to employer sites which we started doing last week and we have a lot more this week, bringing it to community centers, bringing it to schools. It’s really taking that needle to the arm and that’s where our third phase of vaccination is starting this week,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.

Dr. Rai joins us Wednesdays on Action 2 News This Morning. Have a question? Email news@wbay.com.

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

NEW MASKING GUIDANCE

The CDC has relaxed outdoor masking recommendations.

“It’s a really simple recommendation. If you’re fully vaccinated--let’s remember that’s two weeks after your second shot if it’s one of the two-shot versions, two weeks after one shot if it’s J&J means you’re fully vaccinated-- means you don’t have to wear a mask when you’re outside, as long as you’re not in a tight, crowded place like a concert hall, or an outdoor concert venue or a sporting event, but I think it’s just one more step that the CDC’s going to keep announcing here, as more and more people are fully vaccinated, more and more science gets proven that it’s OK for us to start doing things without a mask. This is just one great step, and we should keep seeing this throughout the summer.”

JOHNSON & JOHNSON RETURNS

Providers are once again giving the one-shot vaccine after a pause and review of rare blood clots.

“From a vaccinator’s perspective, the pause was a good thing. You start hearing about a really rare situation, you want to take a pause, you want to make sure you’re not harming a patient, you want to make sure that the vaccine’s not the cause of it. The pause let us know it’s an extremely rare situation. They weren’t even completely sure the vaccine was causing it. Once again, a very rare situation. It looks safe to continue. Now we can continue that. Those that were waiting for it and looking at the pause should look at that as a positive step, too, and a positive step that it’s being reintroduced. The state of Wisconsin gave us the go yesterday, so starting this week you can get J&J here in Wisconsin.”

NEW CASES IN PEOPLE WHO WERE VACCINATED

Do we know how many new COVID cases are in people who were vaccinated?

“It’s a really small percentage population, and it’s being tracked. Remember, those breakthrough infections we’re talking about are those that are fully vaccinated. Once again, it’s an infection after two weeks after you’ve completed your vaccination course. Not getting COVID between the two vaccines. We know you’re not fully protected after the first one if you get COVID in-between them. It’s a good reason, number one, to get the second shot. It’s a really small percentage. We knew that would happen. Remember, we said the vaccine’s not 100 percent. We’re starting to see it in people that may be really, really old and not have a great opportunity to get a good immune response, people on medications that may have prevented that. But once again, it’s much less than the five percent we were expecting.”

CRISIS IN INDIA

“These are hard images for me being of Indian descent, having family in India, uncles, aunts and cousins. It’s apocalyptic there, that’s the easiest way I can describe it. If you rewound to a little over a year ago here in the United States, we saw what was going on in Wuhan and makeshift hospitals being put up and saying that could never happen in the United States. It not only happened in the United States, it happened a lot worse--100 times worse here. We did have makeshift hospitals being put up here and need that. We have to look at India not as this could never happen here, but if we don’t do the right things this easily could happen here. What happened in India is they let down their guard. They took off their masks. They started public gathering before they had a high enough percentage population vaccinated. That let the regular COVID and variants develop and you can see the country is unfortunately on fire.

“They’re (variants) a fire in Michigan, they’re a fire in Minnesota, they’re a fire in New Delhi and Mumbai. We just don’t want it here, so we need to get vaccinated before we start taking down our masks and before we let up our guard.”

VACCINATION FOCUS

Are the people who really wanted the shot fully vaccinated? Is there now a focus on getting more people vaccinated?

“I really don’t think so. If you look at it we’ve done this in three phases. Phase one, kind of pregame. Let’s get all the health care workers done so we can continue to take care of everybody that has COVID or could get it. Then we did the mass vaccination sites. That was the fastest and easiest way we could get to our most vulnerable population and get them done as quickly as possible. If you want to rewind a few broadcasts, I was hoping that we would start getting to the regular population by the end of May and June. Those mass vaccination sites and the vaccine supply coming in allowed us to get through that population much faster than any of us predicted.

“So now it’s that next phase. The people who still want the vaccine but the mass vaccination site’s probably not the best situation. We’ll still have them open. We’ll have them open to walk ins. Now it’s time to really start strategizing. Instead of bringing the arm to the needle, bringing the needle to the arm. Bringing it to every single one of our clinics, bringing to to employer sites which we started doing last week and we have a lot more this week, bringing it to community centers, bringing it to schools. It’s really taking that needle to the arm and that’s where our third phase of vaccination is starting this week. There’s a lot of people that still want to be vaccinated. There’s a lot of that still should be vaccinated. Now in this next month-and-a-half, we need to get that done so we can have a normal summer.”

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