Doctors say surge after Memorial Day will likely be blunted because of vaccines

NOW: Doctors say surge after Memorial Day will likely be blunted because of vaccines

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Many families in the area held gatherings and celebrations for Memorial Day weekend, but will we see a surge in two weeks amid vaccination efforts?

"If you look at it, many of the activities over the past week, we were probably outside, many of them with family members, maybe with your known pod," said Dr. Mary Beth Graham, infectious disease specialist, Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Mary Beth Graham says Memorial Day weekend may not be the best indicator of community spread, because activities may have been on the safer side. This year, the community also had a tool they didn't in past big holiday weekends, a vaccine.

"Types of scenarios which I think are more barometers of community spread are things like going to the State Fair or going to a concert," adds Dr. Graham.

"My own feeling is that there might be a slight bump in cases but I think it will be attenuated by the fact that so many people around us have been vaccinated," said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health.

Doctors say for people who are vaccinated, a COVID-19 infection will likely be mild and may even be asymptomatic, so it probably won't lead to large surges. They hope upcoming large events this summer will help motivate more people to get vaccinated.

"We will see small clusters and outbreaks that will primarily be in the group that isn't vaccinated, because for them, you know, it's nothing different compared to last year," Dr. Safdar adds.

"Hoping for those community efforts and everybody getting together, that they would want to go forward and get the vaccine," says Dr. Graham.

With limited data, experts say it's hard to know whether unvaccinated people are driving up cases, but hospitalized patients do tend to be people who haven't rolled up their sleeves.  

"I would say many of those that have come in, some has had partial vaccination, which you know you can't really count as being fully protected, and some have been unvaccinated," Dr. Safdar said.  

Even with vaccinations underway, Dr. Safdar says the pandemic will not have an abrupt exit.

"I think what will happen is it will sort of make its way into the respiratory viruses just like the other ones, its effect will be attenuated because of the vaccines, but it'll hang around I think for the foreseeable future," she adds.

As of Wednesday, June 2, Wisconsin is at 1.7-percent for its seven-day positive tests, marking the lowest since the early stages of the pandemic. Even so, doctors say people should be vigilant in indoor spaces where they must be close together.

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