Doctor's viral Facebook plea for people to get vaccinated hit with criticisms and questions

Some social media users are issuing caution on sharing a doctor's plea on getting the vaccine 'uncritically'

An article detailing an Alabama doctor’s claim that young, healthy unvaccinated coronavirus patients are dying saying that they refused the vaccine because they thought COVID was a "hoax" has gone viral, with some claiming it appears to be far-fetched. 

"I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections," Dr. Brytney Cobia wrote in a Sunday Facebook post. "One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late." Cobia said loved ones of the deceased refused to get the vaccine citing COVID as being a "hoax," or due to politics. 

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But some are questioning it, arguing it needs to be verified and issuing caution on sharing it "uncritically." 

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"You can say whatever you like on @facebook, doesn’t make it true. Especially if you go easy on details," Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson wrote on Twitter.  Berenson argued that just a handful of people hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19 in Israel are older than 40 out of a population of 9 million.

"People are sharing that Alabama doctor story uncritically. this is the Facebook post from her which it was based on. seems like the sort of thing that should be scrutinized by journalists before taking it as Gospel," Washington Examiner report Jerry Dunleavy wrote on Twitter. 

"I made a personal decision to get the vaccine, but I can also say that Alabama story about the doctor is so far-fetched and dramatic that it reads as fiction. I don’t understand how anyone falls for stuff like that," conservative commentator Caleb Hull tweeted Wednesday. 

"This post is just too perfectly crafted in some way. It tells a story that fits a prevailing narrative in every respect, but leaves out any details about age and health of severe effects. And it ends predicting ‘impending doom’ for maskless kids in school," author Jeffrey A. Tucker tweeted. 

AL.com reported on the Facebook post in an article Wednesday, titled "‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients," which has spread like wildfire on social media. 

Not all comments were skeptical. Lawmakers, commentators and journalists shared the article with messages about the importance of getting vaccinated. 

The hospital where Cobia works, Grandview Medical Center, did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Data shows that deaths in Alabama caused by the coronavirus have significantly dropped since January, and the current coronavirus 7-day average deaths sitting at six. The state has 133 hospitals for its nearly five million residents. Alabama has a total of 11,443 deaths from COVID since the pandemic began in March 2020. 

The article comes as cases of the virus tick up in the state, and highlights that Alabama "is last in the nation in vaccination rate," while noting that 96% of Alabamians who have died of COVID were not fully vaccinated. 

"Back in 2020 and early 2021, when the vaccine wasn’t available, it was just tragedy after tragedy after tragedy," Cobia is quoted in the article. "You know, so many people that did all the right things, and yet still came in, and were critically ill and died."

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Cobia, who said she and her husband previously contracted the virus despite their vigilance on wearing protective gear, warned that patients coming into her hospital with the Delta variant are giving her flashbacks to when the coronavirus first hit the United States. She noted that the lack of a mask mandate, combined with students going back to school and hesitation on vaccines "feels like impending doom."  

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"All these kids are about to go back to school. No mask mandates are in place at all, 70% of Alabama is unvaccinated. Of course, no kids are vaccinated for the most part because they can’t be," Cobia said. "So it feels like impending doom, basically."