104-Year-Old Woman Who Lived During Spanish Flu Pandemic Gets COVID-19 Vaccine

Screenshot/KETV Omaha

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A 104-year-old woman in Iowa received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, over 100 years after living through the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, KETV-TV reported.

Velma McElderry was only two years old when the Spanish Flu ravished the globe in 1918, according to KETV. The Spanish Flu killed 50 million people worldwide and around 675,000 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

McElderry received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine after spending about a year in isolation. McElderry’s trip to get her first vaccine dose was her first time outside of the home since the pandemic broke out, according to KETV-TV.

“It wasn’t that bad,” McElderry told KETV, adding that her arm wasn’t even sore after receiving the shot. “I hope not to keep from getting some kind of illness.” (RELATED: World War II Veteran Becomes 1 Millionth Person To Get COVID-19 Vaccine In Florida)

Sue Peters, McElderry’s daughter, took her to get the shot and said her mom is “a trooper. She’s amazing,” according to KETV. The family found creative ways to keep in touch with the family matriarch over the COVID-19 pandemic, such as FaceTime calls and doorstep visits, KETV reported.

As a child, McElderry grew up in Olmitz, Iowa, where her father worked as a coal miner, according to KETV.

“There wasn’t much to do there, either in the mine or go out on the farm,” McElderry said, reflecting on her childhood. 

Peters said she remembered McElderry telling stories her mother once told about living during the Spanish Flu pandemic, according to KETV.

“She did talk about it a little bit, how her mom would talk about the devastation and how it could it wipe out whole families,” Peters told the outlet. “It will be a big relief once she can get that second shot and start to see family and they can come all the way in the house and not have to worry about standing at the door or staying six feet apart. That will be nice.”