Dr. Rai explains who can get the COVID-19 booster shot

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 7:20 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As Northeast Wisconsin experiences a high level of COVID-19 hospitalizations, booster shots are opening up to certain groups of people.

“This is a booster that you can only get if you’re six months out, and for certain people: 65 and older because they’re higher risk of a breakthrough infection, of getting very sick; those over the age of 18 if they get a breakthrough infection, they have underlying medical conditions such as COPD or heart failure--they can get very sick; and then those over the age of 18 that live in congregant settings such as a nursing home or group home, who also can get very sick and also spread it very rapidly; and lastly, those in high-risk positions where they’re getting exposed to a lot of people with COVID, they’re at more risk for a breakthrough infection, like health care workers, law enforcement, teachers, grocery store workers, they’re all on the list for boosters,” said Prevea Health President & CEO Dr. Ashok Rai.

Dr. Rai joins us each week on Action 2 News This Morning to discuss the latest on COVID-19 and vaccines.

WISCONSIN SITUATION

“So right now not very good for the state of Wisconsin, or really Brown County, at all. What we’re seeing right now is a significant increase in cases. We started to see a little bit of plateauing, and now it’s skyrocketing. When we’re talking about cases, we’re talking about cases per 100,000 because that’s a good benchmark. Our percent positivity is also going up. The demand for testing is going up. Hospitalizations in the area are high. They’re flat, they’re not going up, but they’re also not going down. Pretty significant level of COVID patients in the hospital that are acutely there because they have COVID, which is taking beds away from all the other critical things we normally see at this point: heart attacks, strokes. ICUs are getting very full. Bed management has been a little difficult. Getting through it, but really approaching that crisis point where we need to start to see the cases start going down.”

BOOSTERS

“Went through a lot last week of the FDA looking at who get a booster and then the CDC opining on it. And that’s the right way to have it happen. It took a long time to get the research reviewed. It was reviewed and they realized yes, there is some waning immunity. And what does that mean? It means the immunity over time goes down, but it doesn’t go away. And that’s what the real point was. So, in an attempt to say who could be at risk for a breakthrough infection, let’s protect them based on all of the scientific data. The FDA had an opinion. The CDC had an opinion. The CDC director had an opinion. All of that comes out Friday night with what are we actually going to do? It is only for Pfizer. It’s not that the booster is only Pfizer, you only get the booster if you had Pfizer. Moderna and J&J are still being researched. So if you’ve gotten those vaccines, the protection is still relatively good, and just be patient. This is a booster that you can only get if you’re six months out, and for certain people: 65 and older because they’re higher risk of a breakthrough infection, of getting very sick; those over the age of 18 if they get a breakthrough infection, they have underlying medical conditions such as COPD or heart failure--they can get very sick; and then those over the age of 18 that live in congregant settings such as a nursing home or group home, who also can get very sick and also spread it very rapidly; and lastly, those in high-risk positions where they’re getting exposed to a lot of people with COVID, they’re at more risk for a breakthrough infection, like health care workers, law enforcement, teachers, grocery store workers. They’re all on the list for boosters.

“We decided to open it up to our employees yesterday so we can kind of test out the IT systems, make sure everything’s working well, that you can schedule for it. I went online, scheduled mine, got mine at 5 o’clock last night. So the general public can go on myPrevea.com and start scheduling today. Other health care organizations will be rolling theirs out too. We’re rolling it out here in Green Bay and we’ll spread it to our other spots across the state in the coming days.”

COVID AND FLU SHOTS

“Remember, you don’t get symptoms from both. You can have a reaction--a good reaction, a positive reaction, a good immune reaction. Earlier when we were giving the COVID vaccines, we said you shouldn’t get another shot two weeks prior, two weeks after. That changed. The research changed around that. The science evolved like we said many times. Now we know we can give you both at the same time. If you’re going to have a shot and you’re going to have that great immune response, you can get both at once. Or, if you choose to have them spread apart, you can. It is your choice, but is important that if you qualify for a booster that you get it, and that everybody should get your flu shot.”

TESTING

“We’ve expanded our testing as other systems continue too. But the more we expand, we realize there’s just more and more need for it. And that’s really because the spread of the infection. Mass testing sites, we decided to take that same number of people and move them out throughout different sites so everybody has access to testing. Working with the state on more rapid testing coming forward. But it’s still a big issue and more importantly, if you have any symptoms, it’s important for you to get tested.”

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