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File Photo: Koquice Davidson,left, receives the COVID-19 vaccine as her mother looks on at the Bishop’s High School, Tobago.

Tobago has hit 56 per cent of its vaccination target with more than 20,000 people taking at least their first shot.

Almost 45 per cent of the targeted 36,000 people are fully vaccinated on the island.

In a release yesterday, the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development (DHWFD) said along with the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) said an islandwide community vaccination campaign has been launched roving from street to street, door to door with intense education and awareness, in an effort to increase the rate of vaccination.

Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine said, “It’s slow and intense work getting to ‘ yes’ with people who are opposed to vaccination, hesitant or are waiting. Our team are knocking on those doors. The Delta variant is in the country and probably in Tobago. We are seeing that the vast majority of deaths from COVID are among the unvaccinated.”

Almost 100 per cent of the COVID deaths in Tobago are among unvaccinated people. Persons with underlying health conditions are among the majority of COVID-19 deaths.

Head of the Department of Medicine Scarborough General Hospital, Dr Ogonna Okeke, warned: “People who have comorbidities (underlying health conditions) should take the vaccine as a matter of urgency. The vaccine is your protection from COVID-19. We know people who already have an illness are the most vulnerable and are more likely to die from COVID-19.

“It’s hard to watch people die when we know the vaccine can prevent this and give people a fighting chance. This is no guesswork. The research is in front of us. The COVID-19 ICU is a lonely and long-suffering experience. The vast majority of the people who are dying from COVID are unvaccinated.”

So far all the deaths in Tobago, except for one partially vaccinated person, have been people who were unvaccinated. Eighty-one people have died due to COVID-19 and 2,554 have tested positive.

The Health Secretary said: “Our main concern is the prevention of hospitalisation and death. There is only one way to do that and it is vaccination. The spread of COVID-19 will continue as long as people are interacting. That’s a given.

“In order to live with the spread, vaccination will help us go back to the things and people we love. It’s hard being locked in. Children need to go to school, to learn and play, people need to get back to work, we need tourists to visit, and we need our business sector to be up and running fully. Everyone needs a fighting chance with COVID and the vaccine is that chance.”