Dr. Rai: Now’s the time to get vaccinated before school

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 7:33 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Time is running out for children age 12 and up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the school year.

“So if you look at the CDC predictions our area could ramp up in the September-October time period. So let’s remember the vaccine timeline. Let’s just take Pfizer and pick on them for a second. You get one shot, you have to wait three weeks to get the second shot, and it’s two weeks after that until you’re fully vaccinated. That’s five weeks. If you want to be protected in September, you have to be vaccinated now,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.

Dr. Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about the benefit of vaccines, the Delta variant and the fall outlook.

RISING CASES & HOSPITALIZATIONS

“So we definitely are seeing an increase in cases, unfortunately, and not as much in Wisconsin, they’re definitely going up here locally, hospitalizations have gone up here locally, but we’re seeing what’s happening in Florida and Missouri--really bad situations where ICUs are reopening, COVID units are reopening, procedures are being canceled because of just how overwhelmed the hospitals are. If we take it back 18 months ago or last March where we saw that happening in New York and LA and said ‘well, it’s not going to happen here.’ Well, two weeks later we were the hot spot for the country. It’s really important to see what’s going on in the country, be worried about it, and we’re starting to see the beginning of that now in Wisconsin.”

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DELTA VARIANT

“What makes Delta so unique is how much it replicates. So our original virus we said ‘wow, we’ve never seen anything like this.’ It replicates so fast and it spreads so easily. It’s because, so say the regular virus, one copy in two hours would become 1,000 copies, would become 100,000 copies. Think of Delta as one copy becomes 100,000 copies, becomes 1,000,000 copies very quickly. Which means a person infected with Delta just has a lot of the virus in them, which means they spread it a lot more regularly, which means there’s a lot more replication, too. So not only does it spread faster, it could make you sicker--we don’t have full proof of that yet, but it could. But also concerning is remember how we get a variant: we get a variant because the virus keeps replicating and in that process mistakes happen. That’s how you have a variant. When you have it replicating so much, the likelihood of another variant could come out the more we allow Delta to stick around.”

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GET VACCINATED

“What we’ve definitely seen the the Delta variant, all of our variants, is the vaccine works. Is it 100 percent? No. We said that since day one, if we go back to the broadcast, nothing’s 100 percent. The cases we’re seeing, 98 percent or somewhere in that ballpark, are happening in unvaccinated individuals. So how do you stop the spread? We get people vaccinated.”

VACCINATIONS AHEAD OF SCHOOL

“So if you look at the CDC predictions, our area could ramp up in the September-October time period. So let’s remember the vaccine timeline. Let’s just take Pfizer and pick on them for a second. You get one shot, you have to wait three weeks to get the second shot, and it’s two weeks after that until you’re fully vaccinated. That’s five weeks. If you want to be protected in September, you have to be vaccinated now. You don’t get vaccinated when three people at work suddenly come down with COVID. You don’t get vaccinated when 10 children in a classroom suddenly come down with COVID. You get vaccinated now so so you’re not one of those people. And you also get vaccinated now so when the fall comes and we know we’re going to see spread, you won’t have to quarantine. So think about it. We want our kids to stay in school, we want them playing sports. If they’re vaccinated and they’re exposed to COVID, as the rules stand today, they would not have to quarantine.”

FALL OUTLOOK

“I think there’s going to be a couple of arms to the fall. Number one, our most vulnerable, our 65 and older, we have them vaccinated really well. So we’re not going to likely see overwhelmed hospitals with people dying. But we are going to see a lot more cases, because that 12-65 isn’t close to where we need it to be. So you’ll see a lot more people getting sick. They’ll be in the hospital. Mortality may not be want we’re talking about, but we will be talking about morbidity, those long-term effects. If you’re in the ICU, you’re not going to come out perfectly normal. What we’re seeing in Missouri and Florida--what we didn’t see last year at this time--is a much younger population spending time in the hospital, spending time in the ICU, because of Delta.”

RETURN TO MASKING?

“I’ll never say you shouldn’t mask. It’s a personal choice, especially if you have any kind of underlying medical condition or you’re elderly and you’re worried about that situation, masking is perfectly appropriate. If the CDC comes back with a mask recommendation that’s yet to be seen. Right now we know if you’re vaccinated you’re safe. You’re not likely going to get coronavirus. It’s going to be a two percent chance. And you’re not going to spread it. So there’s no real reason for it now other than the fact is we don’t know who’s vaccinated and who’s not. So you may get mask mandates for that reason alone, just to try to get control over the situation. That’s what Missouri’s attempting to do today with a mask mandate.”

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