Colin Powell’s death from COVID-19 complications intensifies debate over vaccine


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The divide over getting vaccinated against the coronavirus has grown after the virus-related death of Colin Powell, a four-star general who later served as Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Even though the 84-year-old’s family says he was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, he still died from virus complications on Monday, Oct. 18.

“I feel very bad that somebody wasn’t vaccinated and gave it to him. He didn’t get it from nowhere,” said Dr. Lisa Andruscavage of Roanoke.

“I am sad, but I don’t feel that the vaccination helped him at all. Clearly it didn’t. And I understand he had other issues,” said Roanoke resident Ebony Tucker, who works in mental health. “This is just a prime example of if you’re vaccinated you still run the risk of dying, if you’re not vaccinated you still run the risk of dying. So let it be your choice.”

“No it’s not the same risk. You’ve got a six-time high risk of dying if you are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Andruscavage.

FOX News reported Powell was battling illnesses that could have made it harder for him to overcome COVID-19, including Parkinson’s and multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. His family didn’t specify when Powell received the vaccine or whether he was given a booster shot.

Tucker says she is among the many Americans who are unvaccinated. Despite being pressured by friends, she says she doesn’t trust the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Right now I feel like they are using us as guinea pigs to try to figure out what to do,” said Tucker. “As a healthcare professional, I know that the U.S. makes over $1 billion annually on pharmaceutical sales and this is another way for them to make money at the Americans’ expense.”

“The vaccine is not 100 percent protective and unfortunately Colin Powell’s death reinforced that,” said the director of the New River Health District, Dr. Noelle Bissell.

Dr. Bissell says the possibility of breakthrough cases is why she and other health experts are encouraging people to not only get vaccinated but to also continue handwashing and wearing a mask.

“Nothing is 100 percent and that’s why we want to use layered mitigation strategies,” explained Dr. Bissell. Prevention is always the best practice, so that’s why we have emphasized forever and ever hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.”

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