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The two keys to ramping up vaccinations are access and confidence in the vaccine: Infectious Diseases Physician

Infectious Diseases Physician Dr. Payal Patel joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down the latest COVID-19 stats as the number of U.S. cases tops 26.32M.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: Let's keep this discussion going with Dr. Payal Patel, infectious disease physician joining us now. We want to talk about the importance of all of us to get, you know, in-home testing. But the news today is the administration also sending vaccines to pharmacies-- Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, Duane Reade. How important is the commercial pharmacy going to play as we ramp up not only the testing, but inoculations?

PAYAL PATEL: I think that's huge. You know, I've been waiting for this moment. There's two parts to the equation as we try to ramp up vaccinations. It's access, and it's confidence in the vaccine. And if we can really build upon those two things, I think that would be the biggest part of getting more of the country vaccinated.

SEANA SMITH: So Dr. Patel, I guess the question then is, how do we go about doing that? That has been something that we've been talking about for months. We need more confidence in the vaccine. Yes, education is one way to do it. But what other programs or what other methods do you think should be deployed at this point?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, there's-- I don't think there's a quick fix. If you think about the healthcare system and some of the disparities that are in healthcare, they've been around not just for years, but for decades. So, you know, we got to think about it that way. That means that we know a lot about what the disparities stem from. And just acknowledging that they're there is really step one. And so the next step is really trying to focus on the communities that we know, even before we do any studies, are often left out, and trying to build confidence in those communities.

And I think that there is an active push from different parts of the government, as well as hospitals, to focus on that area. And then, of course, increasing access just overall-- that will really help all sorts of people get better vaccination rates.

ADAM SHAPIRO: But the current model requires everybody to essentially make an appointment. Some of the elderly, some of the people in the communities we were watching, at least in New York City, get hit hardest, may not have internet connection or may not even have access to the type of computer so that you can get through the Byzantine registration requirements in a place like New York. Would it make more sense, then, to just have teams go out and be knocking on doors?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, and I think, actually, New York has realized that, you know, as they look at their early numbers of who has gotten the vaccine, I think they are seeing this disparity and are focusing on interventions, just like you mentioned.

SEANA SMITH: Dr. Patel, I want to ask you about something that came out from Dr. Fauci. And he was saying that the CDC could potentially recommend double masking. And of course, this is a result of those more contagious strains that we're seeing coming from the UK and Brazil and South Africa. I'm curious just to get your perspective and what you're advising patients to do right now when it comes to masking. Does double masking make sense?

PAYAL PATEL: Sure, that's a great question. I think, you know, the biggest thing at the end of the day is, are you wearing a mask? And are you wearing it properly, right? So as long as you're covering your mouth and your nose, that is the most important thing.

And, you know, if I had to choose between everyone wearing double masking or getting vaccination rates up, I would say everyone wearing a single mask properly and getting vaccinated is going to be the most effective strategy to get everyone in a safer place. Now, is there a better protection from wearing a second mask? The studies are still out. But wearing a mask at all properly is the way to go.

ADAM SHAPIRO: You wear glasses, I wear glasses. So I'm sure you have experienced the glass fog when wearing your mask. Can you help defend me, when I get a dirty look on the street outside-- yes, I drop it below my nose, but of course, I'm going to, as I'm passing somebody, put it back up. When you're outside, the below the nose, are you really-- I'm more concerned about spreading it to other people. Is there a danger? Help me here. Because the dirty looks in New York sometimes--

PAYAL PATEL: I want to give you a hot tip that I've learned. And that is if you dip your glasses in some water before you put them on, you actually might be able to stop yourself from getting those steamed up and can avoid this issue altogether. And the face shields as well seem to be really helpful. We often wear those in the hospital. And so, those are two hot tips to kind of avoid the not being able to see out of your glasses.

ADAM SHAPIRO: I will try EL of what you've just said. I don't know about the face shield. It looks too Battlestar Galactica 1980s to me. But thank you very much, Dr. Payal Patel, infectious disease physician.

PAYAL PATEL: Thanks for having me, guys.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Good to have you here.