From 1918 flu to COVID-19: 105-year-old Minnesota woman reflects on getting vaccine

105-year-old Carol Robertson got her vaccine shot on Thursday. (FOX 9)

With a slight spring her step, Carol Robertson of St. Paul pushed her walker through the HealthPartners clinic Thursday. The 105-year-old is too familiar with what it’s like to wait for a lifesaving vaccine.

"I can’t understand why people would not want to get this vaccine or wear masks," said Carol.

Born in 1915, Carol and her older brother were just little kids when the 1918 flu pandemic devastated the world around them. Then later as an adult, with one child, Carol vividly recalls worrying for years until a polio vaccine came along for her son.

"Oh, it was terribly scary," she said. "It was such an awful disease. It crippled people and killed a lot too of course. Parents were just -- we didn’t do anything."

By comparison, Carol’s first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine became available to her relatively quickly.

For her niece, son and other family members, worrying about a 105-year-old living alone has been far from easy. 

"We worry every time someone delivers something to her condo, limiting, she was very isolated there from the standpoint of not having company," said Lynn Rusch, Carol’s niece. "She’s in a category that has totally fallen through the cracks, which is older people who are living alone."

That’s why Carol and her loved ones are feeling a huge sense of relief to get an appointment and be among the 600 HealthPartners patients to get vaccinated at the east metro clinic each day. 

Carol says she’s excited to continue her daily walks for as long as she can after surviving a third major health crisis in her lifetime. 

"I think that’s why I’m still alive today," she said. "And of course, good, clean living."