NJ officials say Colin Powell’s death should not deter others from getting COVID-19 vaccine

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s died of COVID-19 complications despite being fully vaccinated. Out of more than 5.5 million fully vaccinated individuals in New Jersey, only 215 have died from virus-related complications.

News 12 Staff

Oct 18, 2021, 10:50 PM

Updated 910 days ago

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s died of COVID-19 complications despite being fully vaccinated. Out of more than 5.5 million fully vaccinated individuals in New Jersey, only 215 have died from virus-related complications.
Gov. Phil Murphy and state health officials once again pointed out that the vaccines are safe and effective.
“This shows that this virus is unrelenting. This virus searches out vulnerable elderly individuals, specifically those with underlying conditions,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
Powell’s death was the most high-profile breakthrough case to date. Murphy eulogized Powell at his Monday COVID-19 briefing.
“As a soldier, diplomat, he gave his all to his nation and we are forever grateful,” Murphy said.
Health officials tried to ease any worries that New Jersey residents may have that the vaccine isn’t safe.
“People have asked whether Colin Powell's death suggests that there's something wrong with the vaccination or some reason why people shouldn't get vaccinated. My answer is really just the opposite. It shows that people need to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Ed Lifshitz, medical director of the New Jersey Communicable Disease Service.
Officials say that of the 5.5 million fully vaccinated people in New Jersey, less than two-thirds of 1% have contracted the virus in the last nine months.
“The vaccines in our toolkit are continuing to perform exceptionally well, with still more than 99 percent of the fully vaccinated remaining COVID-free,” the governor said.
“We have made so much progress, people have done so much good, hard work. How do you go ahead and slide back from that?” asked Lifshitz.
Lifshitz said the virus can, on rare occasions, overwhelm the defenses vaccines put up.
“It can take hold, for example, in your nose. Can begin to cause either no symptoms or mild symptoms and begin to replicate before your body's antibodies can get up there and really fight it off,” he said.
Powell was 84 years old and suffered from a cancer of his white blood cells that likely weakened his immune system. He was scheduled for a booster shot last week but was too ill to receive it. Lifshitz said it would be a mistake for anyone to think Powell's death is a reason against getting vaccinated.
“I'm just quickly reminded of another ex-secretary of state who once said, ‘How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?’ And to me, that's kind of my message back here,” he said.
The governor said flags around the state will be ordered to half-staff in honor of Powell as soon as his funeral arrangements are announced.


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