A fully vaccinated 36-year-old Southwest Airlines flight attendant from New York died after contracting COVID-19.
Maurice “Reggie” Shepperson, who is based in Las Vegas, tested positive for the bug in early July, and succumbed to the disease on Tuesday after being treated in a hospital for a month, a coworker and friend told USA Today.
He was on a ventilator before he died, according to his mother.
It wasn’t immediately clear when he was inoculated against COVID-19. Vaccines take three weeks after the second shot to reach their full effectiveness.
It also wasn’t clear whether the flight attendant had any pre-existing conditions.
A spokesman for Southwest Airlines confirmed to USA Today that a Las Vegas-based crew member died Tuesday.
Severe infections of COVID-19 among those who are vaccinated are extremely rare, even as the highly contagious Delta variant has spread across the United States.
The latest figures posted on the CDC’s website showed that just 8,054 — or 0.005 percent — of the 166 million Americans who’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 had suffered serious breakthrough infections causing hospitalization or death as of August 9.
The vast majority of those who did become severely sick (74 percent) were aged 65 years or older, the data shows.
Shepperson’s mother, Dawn Shepperson, said her son’s death was “mind-blowing.”
“It hurt me so bad because it was just so quick,” she told USA Today.
“I didn’t have time to really even acknowledge what is going on. This is mind-blowing,” the grieving mom added. “It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real.”
Dawn Shepperson, who raised her son alone after his father died when he was a baby, said she was “proud” to be Reggie’s mother.
“People that I don’t even know, once they find out I’m Reggie’s mother said, ‘Ma’am, you did a beautiful job. This is a fine young man,’” she said, according to the outlet. “As a mother, I feel so blessed and proud because that’s all I wanted in life was to raise my son right.”
Marcia Hildreth, a fellow Southwest flight attendant, also told USA Today that Shepperson was given the nickname “Skittles” in 2014 because of his colorful attire during flight attendant training.
Travis Pittman, a fellow Las Vegas-based flight attendant for Southwest, described his coworker as “so sweet,” and “like a teddy bear.”
“That New York exterior can come off hard and all that,” he told the outlet. “But he was just like a teddy bear, so sweet on the inside and very, very loving. Just very fun to be around.”
“We are heartbroken over the loss of our Southwest employee,” Southwest spokesman Brandy King told the publication in a statement.
“Out of respect for the family, we do not have additional information to share.”