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Deaths From COVID-19 Like Colin Powell, Who Was Vaccinated, Are Quite Rare, Chicago Doctor Says

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell died Monday due to complications from COVID-19, amid an ongoing battle with cancer. He was fully vaccinated but with several health issues.

CBS2's Chris Tye spoke with one doctor who says Powell's death shouldn't deter anyone from getting vaccinated.

At the time, when he was named Secretary of State under President George W. Bush,  no Black had ever reached the heights Colin Powell, 84, had.

Fourth in line to the Presidency.

Four presidents served.

As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he was the nation's top soldier, serving for Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush.

Now, as one of the nation's highest profile deaths related to the pandemic, it may leave some with questions. Among them, why did he get COVID-19 after getting vaccinated and then dying from the virus.

Dr. Alan Tan of Rush University Medical Center says Powell's late-in-life battle with a cancer of the blood and bone -- known as multiple myeloma -- is likely what complicated this case.

"A person with a really rare condition causing a very suppressed immune system and possibly and probably on treatment that suppresses your immune system further," Dr, Tan said.

Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are rare.

New numbers from Chicago just last week show that of the 1.5 million Chicagoans vaccinated there have been just 12,000 breakthrough cases.

Of those, 500 people have been hospitalized and most have underlying Conditions -- with an average age of 68. A total of 55 have died, and almost all are people with pre-existing conditions like Colin Powell. The average age of those victims: 78.

"I think this is an outlier compared to the general population," Tan said.

At Colin Powell Middle School in suburban Matteson today, there was  a moment of silence to remember an American who ascended to the nation's highest ranks -- whose trailblazing role in American history is etched forever.

Powell visited that school in Matteson 15 years ago today.

In addition to multiple myeloma, Powell had Parkinson's Disease which further put him at high risk with a compromised immune system.

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