100-year-old Long Beach woman, born in Italy during 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, gets COVID vaccine

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Madeline Ryan was born in Italy during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Now, the 100-year-old Long Beach resident is vaccinated against COVID-19.

"It's unbelievable," said Ryan. "The world is upside down now."

Ryan was a child during the Spanish flu, which lasted from 1918 to 1920 and killed millions across the world. Ryan remembers how the deadly disease impacted her parents for years after the pandemic.

"I just remember my parents crying because their friends died," said Ryan.

Ryan wants life to return safely to normal and encourages anyone that can to get the vaccine.

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"Well they're endangering their own life," said Ryan. "I mean you're not punishing anybody but yourself."

Her daughter works at Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, and the hospital made an opening for Ryan to get the vaccine. Nancy says she wanted her mom to get the vaccine before traveling again.

"Well she's 100 and counting," said Hampton. "She wants to travel again, and I told her she can't go anywhere until she gets some coverage."

Ryan received the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

Carolyn Caldwell, president and CEO of the hospital, is proud of Madeline and the example she is setting for all those 65 and over.

"She's 100 years old she's seen a lot," Caldwell said. "For her to have the faith and the confidence in the vaccine - I think that really says a lot."

Ryan plans to travel back to Sicily when the pandemic is over and rediscover her roots.

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