Can you still die from COVID-19 if you’re fully vaccinated?

Studies show that vaccinated people are eight times less likely to be infected with COVID-19 and 25 times less likely to experience hospitalization or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And while it is rare, it’s not unheard of for fully vaccinated people to die from the virus.


That fact was spotlighted on Monday when news broke that Former Secretary of State Colin Powell had died from coronavirus complications at age 84.

Peggy Cifrino, Powell’s longtime aide, said he had been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.

READ: What is multiple myeloma, a cancer that may have contributed to Gen. Colin Powell’s death?

Multiple myeloma impairs the body’s ability to fight infection, and studies have shown that those cancer patients don’t get as much protection from the COVID-19 vaccines as healthier people.

Immunocompromised people are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 and to transmit the virus to other people, according to officials. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, said that the immunocompromised population in the U.S. is estimated to be “very small” — less than 3% of American adults.

READ: Coronavirus: Fully vaccinated Southwest flight attendant dies of COVID-19

In Orange County, out of more than 2,100 deaths, the health department said 91 people had both of their shots. That’s just 4%.

“Those who are succumbing to COVID-19 infections after being fully vaccinated is extremely rare,” Dr. Anthony Harris, a workforce health expert, said.

READ: Coronavirus: How COVID-19 progresses; a day-by-day breakdown of symptoms

Harris said those that are vaccinated and die from the virus are almost always immunocompromised and over the age of 70.

He said Powell’s death underlines the importance of herd immunity, so the herd can protect our most vulnerable.

“This is not a COVID vaccine failure. This is a call to cajole as many people as you can to be vaccinated,” Harris said.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.