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Shawn Kuhn, 21, a senior majoring in exercise and sports science at the University of Georgia (UGA), died Oct. 11 from COVID complications, despite being fully vaccinated.

For the past six weeks, Kuhn had been in and out of three different hospitals, was placed in a medically induced coma and was put on a ventilator, his father said in a social media post on Oct. 10.

According to his obituary, which described him as an avid UGA Bulldog fan with a passion for serving others, Kuhn played on his high school’s soccer team and was a member of the school’s cross-country team.

At UGA, he was working toward a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science, and worked as a certified personal trainer at UGA’s Ramsey Student Center. He was a competitive fisherman who also enjoyed hiking.

“Shawn was one the most caring, helpful and fun [people] I’ve known and met at UGA,”  said Libby Buchanan, a UGA alum and Kuhn’s friend. “Since that day in 2018, Shawn and me have kept being friends. Anytime you were around Shawn, you couldn’t help but smile and laugh. He never spoke bad about anyone and only encouraged you to be the best.”

Breakthrough case numbers continue to rise

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show as of Oct. 4, 30,177 patients were hospitalized or died despite being fully vaccinated — a number the agency acknowledges is an undercount of all SARS-CoV-2 infections among fully vaccinated persons.

According to the CDC, a vaccine breakthrough case occurs when someone tests positive for COVID at least 14 days after being fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC’s website, people with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread the virus and infect others.

As of May 1, the CDC stopped tracking all COVID vaccine breakthrough cases — instead tracking only those breakthrough cases which result in hospitalization or death. The CDC said it made the change in order to “maximize the quality of data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public importance.”

More COVID breakthrough cases were reported in Pennsylvania, causing concern among health officials. In the past month, about 26% percent of the nearly 5,000 hospitalizations for COVID-related issues within the state of Pennsylvania, were among those who were fully vaccinated.

The Cleveland Clinic said 15% of all new COVID cases the clinic treated in September were breakthrough infections, with 10% of hospitalizations occurring in vaccinated individuals.

According to Cleveland Clinic officials, those who were vaccinated and ended up hospitalized were largely patients who were over the age of 65 or had significant underlying medical conditions.

“While no vaccine is 100% effective and we expect to see some breakthrough cases, the far majority of new cases we are seeing are still occurring in those who are unvaccinated,” Cleveland Clinic officials said in an email Thursday morning.

FDA advisory committee unanimously recommends authorization of Moderna boosters

Vaccine advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today unanimously recommended Moderna’s COVID vaccine booster shots for people 65 and older and “other vulnerable” adults, CNBC reported.

The nonbinding decision by the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) would bring guidelines for Moderna in line with third shots of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.

The FDA authorized those shots less than a month ago for a wide array of Americans, including the elderly, adults with underlying medical conditions and those who work or live in high-risk settings like health and grocery workers.

While the agency hasn’t always followed the advice of its committee, it often does. A final FDA decision on Moderna boosters could come within days.

The decision came during the first day of a two-day meeting of the VRBPAC, during which committee members were also scheduled to vote on boosters for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine and a presentation on mix-and-match vaccines.

Moderna requested authorization for a 50-microgram booster dose — half the size of the 100-microgram doses used in the primary series of the two-dose vaccine — at least six months after the second dose, and only for certain groups.

Moderna’s request mirrored the groups authorized to receive a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine in September. Third doses of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines are already authorized for some immunocompromised people.