FLASHBACK - Dr Ogonna Okeke, Head, Internal Medicine Department, Scarborough General Hospital, receives the first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Tobago, back in February 2021, from Nurse Latoya Mc Kenzie-James, District Health Visitor. (Image courtesy Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development)

A Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) official is again asking Tobago residents to depend on reliable forms of media for information on COVID-19 vaccines.

Head of Internal Medicine at the Scarborough General Hospital, Dr Oganna Okeke, advised Tobagonians to stay away from social media. He said most of the information on social media is not helpful and acts as a deterrent to people getting the vaccine.

“In addition to washing your hands and following other COVID protocols … we should also practice social media distancing. I think social media is a big problem. Let us follow the science…” Dr Okeke told reporters at the weekly Tobago Health Update virtual media briefing, on Thursday.

He is urging residents to take the vaccine, saying it is one of their crucial defences against the COVID-19 disease.

He said unvaccinated people infected with the disease are more likely to end up in the COVID Intensive Care Unit.

He said going to the ICU “is even worse than being in a prison”.

“Anyone coming around you will be dressed in the PPEs [Personal Protection Equipment] … so it’s not someone who can sit down and chat with you or shake your hand,” he explained.

He added: “And then there is the experience of you not knowing that your breath is your last one. Those who survive will tell you that they start asking for the vaccine then, and that is the level of desperation most people feel.”

Dr Okeke is advising residents not to wait until they get to that stage before getting the vaccine.