Fully vaccinated flight attendant dies after month-long battle with Covid-19
Reggie Shepperson, 36, worked as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines until a month-long battle with Covid-19 ended his life, despite being fully vaccinated against the virus.
“It hurt me so bad because it was just so quick. I didn’t have time to really even acknowledge what (was) going on. This is mind-blowing. It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real,” Reggie’s mother, Dawn Shepperson-Bernard, said.
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The Las Vegas native died early Tuesday. “We are heartbroken over the loss; the Southwest Family is supporting each other, and our Employee’s family, during this difficult time. Out of respect for Reggie’s family, we do not have additional details to share,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement.
Reggie worked for Southwest for 9 years. His career as a flight attendant began in 2007, and he had previously worked for AirTran Airways as well.
One of Shepperson’s coworkers, Marcia Hildreth, described him as conscientious concerning Covid precautions – he wore a mask, washed his hands, sanitized surfaces, and wiped down his hotel rooms. Despite taking these safety measures, he tested positive for Covid in early July.
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“It shows how quick life can change,” Dawn said. “How you can build a life for yourself, and how quickly your life can just be taken away. Everything that you worked for, so hard, it can just basically be left in ruins, your family left in ruins.”
Vaccination is highly effective at preventing Covid deaths, but “breakthrough” infections do still occur. Although Shepperson was put on a ventilator before he died, serious illness and hospitalization are also significantly lower in vaccinated individuals.
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Comprehensive data on breakthrough infections and deaths is lacking. Still, a new analysis shows that in most states with available data, people who were not fully vaccinated were hospitalized with Covid-19 at least five times more often than fully vaccinated people, and they died at least eight times more often.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines “fully vaccinated” as 14 days after a person has received the final dose of an FDA-authorized vaccine.