Maurice Reginald “Reggie” Shepperson of Las Vegas tested positive for the novel coronavirus in July and he battled the respiratory illness for a month, according to USA Today.
His mother, Dawn Shepperson, and close colleague and friend, Marcia Hildreth, told the American newspaper he died from complications with COVID-19 on Tuesday, Aug. 10, despite being fully vaccinated.
Southwest Airlines confirmed Shepperson passed away in an email sent to Fox News.
“We are heartbroken over the loss; the Southwest Family is supporting each other, and our Employee’s family, during this difficult time,” the airline’s statement said. “Out of respect for Reggie’s family, we do not have additional details to share.”
Shepperson had a close relationship with his mother and the pair briefly took a trip to Hawaii in June, weeks before he tested positive, according to one of his last Facebook posts.
Prior to falling ill, he also expressed frustration with the long waits he was seeing in doctor’s offices in Nevada. Based on his observation, Shepperson wrote that scheduling an appointment with a doctor in the Silver State could mean a three- to four-month wait.
Shepperson’s mother and Hildreth did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
“It hurt me so bad because it was just so quick,” his mother told USA Today. “I didn’t have time to really even acknowledge what is going on.”
She went on to note that he took precautions throughout the pandemic, including regular mask wear, cleaning surfaces and washing his hands.
Hildreth told USA Today that she’s going to miss her friend. She has gone on to create a GoFundMe to help the Shepperson family cover the cost of funeral arrangements.
“Reggie was a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines and he loved his job! His personality, wit and humor were just a few characteristics that everyone adored,” Hildreth captioned the fundraising campaign. “He was one of the kindest most giving people I’ve ever known. If you needed him, he’d be there with no questions asked. Now he needs you to help make his transition a bit easier on his mom, Dawn, whom he loved dearly.”
Infections that occur after vaccination are called “breakthrough infections,” according to scientists.
The World Health Organization (WHO) uploaded a podcast episode on Friday addressing frequently asked questions about COVID-19 breakthrough infections.
“The vaccines that we have against COVID are incredibly effective vaccines. And people have seen the results from the clinical trials of, you know, anywhere in the 80% range, 90% range of efficacy,” said Dr. Katherine O’Brien, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “But that doesn’t mean that 100% of people, 100% of the time are going to be protected against disease. There is no vaccine that provides that level of protection for any disease.”
She went on to say that although breakthrough infections are “uncommon,” scientists are “seeing more cases of breakthrough disease, in part because people are stopping the other interventions that reduce the transmission of this virus.”
“When the virus starts to transmit at a greater and greater pace and with greater frequency, there’s a lot more exposure that everybody has, including people who are vaccinated,” O’Brien added.
The WHO recommends all people to avoid crowds, continue social distancing and keeping windows open whenever possible.