'It's going to be a bad fall,' Prevea CEO says as he urges the unvaccinated to get shots now before it's too late
GREEN BAY – A local hospital executive and physician made an urgent plea to residents to get vaccinated and be fully protected in time for the return of fall activities indoors and the first day of school.
Because it's three weeks between the first and second shots, and it takes two weeks after the second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines for the body to build protection against the virus, people would need to get the first shot now to have that immunity when school and other fall activities start, Prevea Health CEO and President Dr. Ashok Rai said during Prevea's Plug in to Health podcast on Thursday.
"That's five weeks. We know that we’re going to start leaving the fun sun and going more indoors come the fall, and we’re going to see outbreaks because it will spread quicker," Rai said.
Over 51% of Wisconsin's residents had at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, according to data from the state Department of Health Services.
In Brown County, over 53% of residents in each of the De Pere, Ashwaubenon, West De Pere and Howard-Suamico school districts got at least one dose. Wrightstown and Denmark school districts fall behind the county at only about 42%, according to DHS data.
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How many more people in the other half of the population get their shots will affect how many more people will die and face long-term effects of infection, when it could have been prevented, Rai said.
As people return to holding events indoors and variants continue to grow, the chance of spread increases in the fall and an outbreak can happen quickly, he said on the podcast.
The fewer people who get vaccinated now also determines how many new variants emerge and potentially become resistant to the vaccine and bring the area back to where the pandemic began, Rai explained.
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"A variant comes because the virus is allowed to replicate. When you're infected, the word replication means it reproduces," Rai said. "This virus grows in you. ... That replication, basically birthing a new virus, happens so quickly that mistakes happen and that's how you get a variant."
The delta variant especially continues to be of concern to health officials as it causes surges in communities with low vaccination rates.
"Right now the writing’s on the wall: it's going to be a bad fall," he said. "How bad really depends on how many people we can get vaccinated now."
Contact Benita Mathew at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @benita_mathew.