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(CNN)There are two important ways to consider Colin Powell upon his death from complications of Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
One is his imprint on the country. Powell helped shape US foreign and military policy over decades and his break with the GOP — a long time coming — foretold the party’s rightward lurch at a time of misinformation and insurrection.But his death, which came as he battled the blood cancer multiple myeloma, captures the difficulty in this very specific moment of convincing some Americans to trust their government when it comes to vaccination against the coronavirus.Pause just for a moment to consider his legacy. Powell, a soldier turned statesman, was born the child of immigrants in the Bronx.He inspired Americans as the first Black man to serve as the nation’s top general, its top diplomat and one of its most admired and trusted leaders, but one with a complicated legacy. Read MoreA warrior who preached diplomacy, he ended his public service career as the megaphone for flawed intelligence used to push the country into war in Iraq.He is known for moments of conscience. Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008, despite a post-military career as a Republican, was a key moment in that presidential race, when Obama sought to quiet concerns about his lack of national security experience. Read CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny on that episode. Photos: Colin Powell's life in pictures Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesColin Powell poses for a portrait in 2012.Hide Caption 1 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell married his wife, Alma, in 1962, He joined the US Army in 1958 and served two tours of duty in South Vietnam.Hide Caption 2 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesA young Powell takes a photo of himself in a mirror. Powell, a son of Jamaican immigrants, was born in Harlem, New York, in 1937 and grew up in the South Bronx. He attended the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps.Hide Caption 3 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell serves as an adviser to a Vietnamese infantry battalion while deployed in 1963. Powell was wounded that year by a Viet Cong booby trap. He was also wounded in a 1969 helicopter crash in which he rescued two soldiers.Hide Caption 4 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell confers with US Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger during a Senate committee meeting in Washington in 1985. Powell stayed in the Army after returning home from Vietnam, attending the National War College and rising in leadership. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, and he became a senior military assistant to Weinberger in 1983.Hide Caption 5 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell became the nation’s first Black national security adviser in 1987. From left here are White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, Secretary of State George Shultz, Powell and President Ronald Reagan. They were discussing an upcoming summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.Hide Caption 6 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell advises Reagan in 1988 during an Oval Office meeting of the National Security Council.Hide Caption 7 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell accompanies Reagan on a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1988.Hide Caption 8 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesIn 1989, Powell was tapped by President George H.W. Bush to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here, he speaks during a Pentagon briefing about Panama. At left is Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, who later became vice president of the United States.Hide Caption 9 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesAlthough Powell was initially reluctant to commit US troops when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, he became one of the administration’s most trusted spokesmen when the assault on Saddam Hussein’s army finally came.Hide Caption 10 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell addresses the crew of the USS Wisconsin during Operation Desert Shield in 1990.Hide Caption 11 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell joins President George H.W. Bush and other key advisers at the President’s summer home near Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1990. Bush is on the left in the blue hat.Hide Caption 12 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell and Cheney talk to reporters during a Pentagon briefing in 1990.Hide Caption 13 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell playfully uses the head of Air Force Sgt. Thaddeus Fernandez while autographing a Saudi monetary note in 1990. Powell was visiting an Air Force base in San Antonio.Hide Caption 14 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell makes a point about entrenched Iraqi troops during a Pentagon briefing in 1991.Hide Caption 15 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1991, shortly after the end of the Gulf War.Hide Caption 16 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell tours a Soviet air base in 1991.Hide Caption 17 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell reads aboard the USS Wasp while it was off the coast of Somalia in 1993.Hide Caption 18 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell salutes as he tells a story about himself and former President Ronald Reagan in 1996. He was attending Reagan’s 85th birthday celebration at a restaurant in West Hollywood, California.Hide Caption 19 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell flies over Arlington, Virginia, in a Blackhawk helicopter in 1996.Hide Caption 20 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell joins Republican candidate Bob Dole, center, and Dole’s running mate, Jack Kemp, while the two were campaigning in Louisville, Kentucky, before the 1996 election.Hide Caption 21 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell and Cheney fly to Waco, Texas, for a meeting with President-elect George W. Bush in 2000. Bush would later nominate Powell to be secretary of state.Hide Caption 22 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell takes photos beside his wife, Alma, at Bush’s inauguration in 2001.Hide Caption 23 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell is joined by his wife as the President swears him in as secretary of state in 2001.Hide Caption 24 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell testifies about various foreign policy issues during a Senate committee hearing in 2001.Hide Caption 25 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesFrom left, Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Powell share a laugh in Rumsfeld’s office in 2001.Hide Caption 26 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesFormer President Bill Clinton pats Powell’s back as they depart the Washington National Cathedral in 2001. They were there on the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, honoring those who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.Hide Caption 27 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesBush and Powell meet in the White House Oval Office in 2001.Hide Caption 28 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell shakes hands with Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai in 2002. It was the first time a US secretary of state had visited Afghanistan since 1976.Hide Caption 29 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell prepares to testify about Bush’s budget proposal before a Senate committee hearing in 2002.Hide Caption 30 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell receives a pat on the cheek from national security adviser Condoleezza Rice during an Oval Office meeting in 2002. In 2005, Rice would succeed Powell as secretary of state.Hide Caption 31 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell and Bush attend a NATO summit in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2002. Behind them are Rice and Rumsfeld.Hide Caption 32 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell holds up a vial, which he described as one that could contain anthrax, during a speech to the United Nations Security Council in 2003. Powell presented evidence that the US intelligence community said proved Iraq had misled inspectors and hid weapons of mass destruction. “There can be no doubt,” Powell warned, “that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.” The United States went to war with Iraq just six weeks after Powell’s speech. Inspectors, however, later found no such weaponry in Iraq, and two years after Powell’s UN speech, a government report said the intelligence community was “dead wrong” in its assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities. Powell later called his UN speech a “blot” that will forever be on his record. “The event will earn a prominent paragraph in my obituary,” Powell wrote in his 2012 memoir.Hide Caption 33 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesBush meets with his war council in the White House Situation Room in 2003. Powell is next to Bush on the right.Hide Caption 34 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell appears before a Senate committee in 2003. He spoke on various issues, including North Korea and the post-war situation in Iraq.Hide Caption 35 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell speaks to the media after UN weapons inspector Hans Blix delivered a speech to the UN Security Council in 2003.Hide Caption 36 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell stands with Bush before the President signed a $15 billion global AIDS bill in 2003.Hide Caption 37 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell takes reporters’ questions during a 2004 news conference at the State Department.Hide Caption 38 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell reads over papers while standing in the Oval Office in 2004.Hide Caption 39 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesBush and Powell wave from Powell’s home in McLean, Virginia, in 2005.Hide Caption 40 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesFrom left, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Powell and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the US Diplomacy Center at the State Department in Washington in 2014.Hide Caption 41 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell, left, joins national security leaders past and present while meeting with President Barack Obama in 2015. The meeting was about the national security implications of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact. From left are Powell, former Secretary of State James Baker, Obama, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Albright.Hide Caption 42 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell salutes as he and other former military commanders pay their last respects to former President George H.W. Bush in 2018.Hide Caption 43 of 44 Photos: Colin Powell's life in picturesPowell shakes hands with President Donald Trump during the Ford’s Theatre Gala in Washington in 2019. Though the large majority of Powell’s time as a public servant was spent in Republican administrations, the later years of his life saw him supporting Democratic presidential candidates and harshly criticizing top Republican leaders. Powell endorsed Obama, voted for Hillary and also supported Joe Biden. He once called Trump a “national disgrace and an international pariah.”Hide Caption 44 of 44CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote that Powell’s style of moderate politics feel out of whack in today’s political atmosphere and in today’s GOP. While he’d served in three Republican administrations, Powell told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria after the January 6 insurrection that he was no longer calling himself a member of the party.RELATED: The Colin Powell Republican no longer exists in the Republican Party He is known for complicated failures. Yet it was Powell who, almost two decades earlier, delivered the speech at the United Nations — based on incorrect intelligence — backing the George W. Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq to push out Saddam Hussein, who was only still in power because Powell and others chose not to oust him after the first Gulf War. Now consider the reaction to his manner of death. Powell, who was vaccinated, died from a breakthrough infection of Covid-19 as he also battled cancer. CNN reported he had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response — making him extraordinarily vulnerable, even with the vaccine. He was also suffering from Parkinson’s disease.Younger people should be getting vaccinated in order to protect at-risk people like Powell, according to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University. RELATED: Why Colin Powell’s cancer likely reduced his protection from the Covid-19 vaccine“He was over the age of 80, he had cancer, and a treatment for his cancer made him vulnerable,” Reiner said Monday on CNN.”So, when we try and convince young people who feel that they are low-risk from the virus itself why they need to be vaccinated, it’s to protect our treasures, our people like Gen. Powell, our grandparents, because while, you know, a 25-year-old may do quite well with the infection, if they spread it to someone like Gen. Powell, they will not,” Reiner said. “That is the imperative for vaccination in this country.”A very small fraction of Covid-19 deaths. There have been more than 7,000 breakthrough infection deaths in the US during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.That’s one out of every 26,000 fully vaccinated people who has died of Covid-19, or 0.004%, according to CNN writer Devan Cole’s report on Powell. The vast majority of breakthrough deaths were among people over 65 and most were among men.Powell’s longtime chief of staff Peggy Cifrino told CNN he was scheduled to get a vaccine booster shot this past week, but then became too ill.CNN’s Katia Hetter writes that vaccinated people dying from Covid-19 does not mean the vaccines are ineffective. Simply put, far fewer people who get a vaccine die from Covd-19.US health authorities are considering new guidance on boosters, both for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for which boosters have not yet been authorized, and to mix and match different boosters, such as giving a Pfizer booster to a person initially vaccinated with the J&J vaccine.Police unions continue vaccine standoff. I wrote here last week about police officers refusing the vaccine. That storyline has grown more important in the days since.CNN looked at officer death rates and found far more police officers have died from Covid-19 this year than from gunfire. Covid-19 is the leading cause of death among police officers.But many officers continue to oppose vaccine requirements. The standoff in Chicago between the police union and city government continues. Versions of that story are occurring across the country.Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, encouraged officers to get vaccinated during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. He pointed out vaccination is key to public safety.”We’re not living in a vacuum as individuals. We’re living in a society, and society needs to be protected,” he said, noting the core function of police. “And you do that by not only protecting yourself but by protecting the people around you, by getting vaccinated.”When will kids be able to get vaccinated? Some parents are counting down the days until they can get their 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated. An FDA advisory panel is set to meet October 26 and emergency use authorization could follow days later.The realistic timeline is still for these kids to be starting the two-shot vaccination process in early November.RELATED: Here’s what the rollout of vaccines for kids 5-11 could look likeWhen might some kids be required to get vaccinated? Some parents are up in arms. Some Californians protested vaccine requirements by pulling their kids from school Monday. Kids aren’t currently required to get the vaccine in California. The requirement kicks in only after a vaccine gets full FDA approval. Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine has full approval and only for people 16 and older.California’s decision to add the Covid-19 vaccine to its longer list of required vaccines for school children likely would not kick in until next July.
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