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Colin Powell's death causes vaccine debate on social media, health experts push back

General Colin Powell was fully vaccinated but died from COVID-19 complications on Monday. Health experts said Powell's blood cancer and age, 84, made him vulnerable.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nearly 59% of Florida's population has been fully vaccinated, which is now higher than the national rate. Even so, there is concern growing disinformation could slow the vaccination rate.

"On Average someone who is unvaccinated has an 1100 percent more of a chance of dying from covid than someone who is vaccinated," said Dr. Chirag Patel, Assistant Chief Medical Officer at UF Health Jacksonville.

General Colin Powell was fully vaccinated but died from COVID-19 complications on Monday. Health experts said Powell's blood cancer and age, 84, made him vulnerable, even with the vaccine. 

However, his death has sparked a shouting match over vaccines on social media. 

"I think there is going to be individuals who sow a lot of disinformation and will grab on to this and use it as a marketing tool which is tragic," said Patel.

First Coast News found several posts on Twitter and this is one example:

"The vaccination might have caused his complications."

Dr. Patel said Mr. Powell was immunocompromised. 

"I know what happens if you catch COVID. I know what the statistics show," said Patel. "I know if you are vaccinated your chance of catching COVID is reduced significantly."

Patel said to avoid shouting matches over vaccines and talk with your health care provider.

"Some immunity is better than no immunity," he said.

Now that the nation is open to international travel he and other health care providers are concerned about a new surge in positive COVID-19 cases and even new variants.

He said the chances of minimizing the spread of the virus is to get to a 70% vaccination rate.

"The numbers don't lie. You don't want COVID, so go get vaccinated," said Patel.