After long battle, ‘fully vaccinated’ Southwest flight attendant succumbs to COVID-19

In spite of medicine’s best efforts, Covid-19 continues to strike people down, seemingly at random.

One such casualty was Maurice “Reggie” Shepperson, a 36 year old flight attendant with Southwest Airlines, originally from New York. He had returned from a work trip to Hawaii, where he had taken his mother as well, when he began to show symptoms of the coronavirus. By July 7th, he had been checked into the hospital at his home in Las Vegas because of difficulty breathing and had to be put on a ventilator.

Despite taking all possible precautions, such as vaccination, wearing masks, carefully wiping down all surfaces in the airplanes and hotels Shepperson worked and stayed at with sanitation cloths, it was not enough to save him. His situation continued to deteriorate until August 10th, when he tragically succumbed to the disease, according to the Daily Mail.  Though Shepperson worked throughout the pandemic, it wasn’t until late July that he tested positive.

By all accounts, Shepperson loved to live life. His friends called him “high flier” due to his proclivity for repeatedly volunteering for flight shifts ever since becoming a flight attendant in 2007, and sometimes “Skittles” for his habit of wearing brightly colored pants.

“He was hitting the skies right away, using his benefits.  He loved working, and he loved the perks,” said Kiki Lee, a fellow flight attendant from his training class, to USA Today.

There are no public, official statistics for Covid cases among flight crews.  The flight attendant union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents workers from United, Frontier, Spirit, and Hawaiian among others, has tentatively estimated that roughly 4,000 flight attendants from all American airline companies have become infected with Covid, and approximately 20 have died.

Shepperson is considered a victim of “breakthrough” Covid infections that can inflict serious symptoms with sometimes fatal severity, even on those who are fully vaccinated, which Shepperson was.  While the vaccine certainly helps reduce severity and infection rates, it is not 100% reliable in preventing the disease. Fortunately, such cases are a tiny minority, where otherwise healthy adults who are vaccinated, cautious, and receiving extensive hospital treatment are nevertheless struck down by such “breakthrough” infections, which occur independently of the latest Covid surge.

According to Mayo Clinic, the Moderna vaccine may be far more effective at stopping “breakthrough” infections than the Pfizer vaccine by as much as 60%.

In Minnesota, one study found that the mRNA-173 Moderna vaccine was 76% effective, but the BNT162b2 Pfizer vaccine was only 42% effective. However, this is a “pre-print” study that has not undergone a full peer review yet. According to the CDC, the risk of infection among those not vaccinated at all is roughly 8 times higher than those with either vaccine, and the risk of hospitalization or death is 25 times higher.

We here at BizPac Review send our condolences and prayers to Shepperson’s family and friends, particularly his mother Dawn, whom he was by all accounts very close to.

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