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Dr. Rai talks booster shots and Back 2 School guidance during COVID-19

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 7:46 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - People who did not have a good immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine will soon be able to get a booster shot in Northeast Wisconsin.

“The first population that was announced Friday, that’s for people that never really had a great response to the vaccine in the first place, mainly due to a medical condition, mostly due to medications they could be on: a person undergoing chemotherapy, somebody who’s had, say, a kidney transplant is on immune-suppressive drugs. That’s about two-and-a-half-to-three percent of the population, people have estimated. Those individuals can now start getting a booster shot--we’re calling it a booster shot but it’s really to get an actual response to the vaccine where they did not get one the first time. Hopefully we can start doing that here by the end of this week,” says Prevea President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai.

Dr. Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about booster guidance and recommendations on wearing masks during the spread of the Delta variant.

COVID-19 IN WISCONSIN

“From a COVID perspective, our cases per 100,000 are starting to continue to increase. Our percent positivity is over that eight percent mark, so the CDC would still have us in what we consider that high zone, which is not where we want to be, which means the virus is still spreading pretty rapidly through our community. Hospitalizations are also up over last week, too, which is not a good barometer for how things are going to go in the coming weeks.”

BOOSTER SHOTS

“I think the word ‘booster’ is being used interchangeably here. The first population that was announced Friday, that’s for people that never really had a great response to the vaccine in the first place, mainly due to a medical condition, mostly due to medications they could be on: a person undergoing chemotherapy, somebody who’s had, say, a kidney transplant is on immune-suppressive drugs. That’s about two-and-a-half-to-three percent of the population, people have estimated. Those individuals can now start getting a booster shot--we’re calling it a booster shot but it’s really to get an actual response to the vaccine where they did not get one the first time. Hopefully we can start doing that here by the end of this week. We got the news late last Friday. Now it takes time to operationalize it, get the computers to be able to recognize that third shot, and then get it into people. Hoping that will start happening by the end of the week.

“Last night they started announcing boosters for everybody. That’s really the true booster. What it means it they’re starting to see, and this is looking at some international data--mainly out of Israel from what I’ve heard--is that vaccine immunity can start to wane over time. We knew that would happen, and we never really knew what time that would be. What we saw, because of the Delta variant breaking through, that an eight-month mark is a good time to maybe start considering a booster shot. That’s what the federal government will start talking about this week, and then will let us know when we can start giving it. That population, we can’t start giving you that booster yet. So let’s leave those boosters for people who are already approved, those who are on those medications or have those medical illnesses.”

BACK 2 SCHOOL MASKING AND QUARANTINING

The CDC has announced that under certain circumstances, school children who are exposed to COVID while masked do not need to quarantine.

“It’s a small technicality. It’s important to understand it only applies to K-12, and it doesn’t apply to teachers, it applies to students. Students that are maintaining distancing from three-to-six feet. If both students were masked and they maintained that distance and they wore their masks correctly during that exposure time, the student that was exposed to the one who was positive would not need to quarantine. That student would not need to quarantine only if they don’t develop symptoms. In other words, if they have any symptoms then they have to be tested and quarantined and remain masked throughout school. That’s why masking, for another reason, is very important within schools. It can reduce the number of children who have to miss school, which is the whole point of the guidelines, the whole point of getting everybody vaccinated, the whole point of let’s wear masks in school was to get as many people to not only start school, but to stay in school. We want our students to be able to do that.”

TESTING

“I think testing sites, right now, I can only speak to Prevea’s, but I know our partners in town are also testing, we’re about 50-to-60 percent capacity everyday. Which means we have room to test more. Still go on the myPrevea app to schedule your test, just like you did last year. Same type of testing. We have just different locations and different ways to do it. Right now, the demand isn’t there to have the mass drive ups, but we might be at that point. We’re ready for it. There’s no different test or no change in testing because of Delta. The state of Wisconsin has said the predominant strain we’re seeing here in Wisconsin is Delta, and we know how fast it spreads, so when you’re getting tested and you’re positive, the likelihood is it’s Delta.”

MASKING

“So really right now, the CDC recommendation, because we’re high, is for everybody to mask. And it’s to protect the unvaccinated. It’s not to protect the vaccinated person from a breakthrough, but to protect that vaccinated person, in case they have a mild infection, from spreading it to unvaccinated people. The biggest thing to remember when we talk about unvaccinated people: it’s not the people that say didn’t want a shot and I don’t want to protect them. That’s not a good attitude. It really is about all of our children, everybody 11 and under. So we don’t want to infect their parents who are going to infect them. This is about protecting those who can’t get vaccinated. It’s really important that we wear masks indoors for a little while here, hopefully not too long, to protect our children.”

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