Resident born during influenza pandemic receives COVID-19 vaccine

January, 12, 2021

Resident born during influenza pandemic receives COVID-19 vaccine

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. — Saturday, January 9, 2021, was a significant day at Bluestem Communities’ Kidron Bethel Village as many residents and staff members received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Amongst the joy and celebration of beginning to see the long-awaited light at the end of a tunnel, one resident quietly marked the event as another historic chapter to add to a long life journey.

At 102 years old, resident Margaret Ikerd has a kind of practical wisdom when it comes to living through the COVID-19 pandemic, and she doesn’t allow it to ruffle her. Born in December 1918, she entered a world that was reeling from a world war that ended just 37 days prior and in the midst of the deadly global influenza pandemic. From the very start of her life, she has been witness to countless historic events and has developed an attitude to accept with grace and respond humbly to whatever life presents.

“Oh, it was just part of the routine again,” said Ikerd about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. “I’ve lived an interesting life. It has always presented opportunities and new challenges. You have to just go with the flow.”

While she doesn’t have first-hand recollections of life during the influenza pandemic, she recalls hearing stories of social distancing practices similar to those of today.

“Mother was pregnant with me during the influenza pandemic and one of her relatives, who was also a good friend, was also pregnant,” said Ikerd. “It was disappointing to Mother that they couldn’t be together during that time and share the experience. The other lady ended up losing her baby because of influenza.”

Even with the lockdowns and a frequent updating of guidelines for long term care communities that have kept many residents from having in-person interactions with their loved ones, Ikerd’s spirits remain high by finding joy and contentment in the connections that she is able to keep.

Ikerd’s daughter, Linda Koppes, is also a resident at Kidron Bethel Village, living in an independent living apartment with her husband that is connected to the health care center where her mother resides. Despite the close proximity, mother and daughter have only seen each other face-to-face one time in the last year.

“I call Mother every evening at 7:45,” said Koppes. “Her oldest son calls every Saturday from Alaska, and her youngest son calls every Sunday from California. She seems very satisfied with those phone calls. One of my brothers also sends a letter every week that she receives on Monday. She’s very independent, so she really doesn’t let the whole situation bother her.”

Kidron Bethel nurses and Life Enrichment staff have also worked diligently and creatively to ensure residents have opportunities for activity and socialization even when they have had to be quarantined in their rooms for any length of time. 

“It’s a relief to know that Mother is so well taken care of even when we can’t be there to see in person,” said Koppes.

While Ikerd’s view of the newest vaccine has been go with the flow, Koppes noted the hopefulness she felt when she and her husband received their vaccines on the same day as her mother.

“Getting the vaccine was a big, wonderful relief,” said Koppes. “When we received our vaccines, everyone was smiling. It was a day of celebration.”

“While we know we have many more months of being careful,” Koppes added, “I’m looking forward to the day when I can see Mother face-to-face again and have a conversation.”


Photo by Linda Peters, Kidron Bethel Village.

Caption: Margaret Ikerd, a 102-year-old resident of Kidron Bethel Village receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Ikerd has seen a number of historic events in her lifetime.