Montco WWII vet looking forward to 99th birthday after getting her COVID-19 vaccination

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Merle Caples says the shot didn’t hurt one bit.

The 98-year-old World War II veteran got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

“I feel great, because now I feel like I’m up to date,” she said.

Merle’s daughter, former KYW Newsradio anchor Amy Caples, says it’s relief to get her mom her first shot.

“Mom was on the list for Montgomery County. She’s 98 years old, but she was behind 70,000 people on the list. We knew that was going to take weeks, and I was getting very nervous,” Amy said.

Merle Caples, 98, was vaccinated against COVID-19 at a Montgomery County clinic organized by Pa. state Rep. Todd Stephens.
Merle Caples, 98, was vaccinated against COVID-19 at a Montgomery County clinic organized by Pa. state Rep. Todd Stephens. Photo credit Amy Caples

She says she moved her mom from the retirement home to her house last spring when COVID-19 cases started climbing.

“I just knew there weren’t going to be visitors," Amy said. "And I would go there every day. I mean, I was with her every day.”

Merle was one of 300 seniors vaccinated at a clinic aimed at people 80 and older set up by state Rep. Todd Stephens.

“When you have somebody who’s 98 and has dedicated so much of her life to our country, it really warms your heart," Stephens said.

Merle joined the Marines in 1942 to help with the war effort.

“I was just a green, little country girl. Lived in Kentucky,” she said. “All my girlfriends were joining, and I thought, “I’m joining too.’”

She says she got a job in St. Louis in a factory that made shell casings and walked past the recruitment center every day.

She says she picked the Marines because she liked their uniform the most.

“And I went to Camp Lejuene for boot training.”

She ended up at Camp Pendelton, in California, working in the quartermaster department, the post exchange, and the tailor shop. She says for every woman who joined, a man could go overseas to fight.

Merle Caples and Pa. state Rep. Todd Stephens talk to KYW Newsradio's Jim Melwert.
Merle Caples and Pa. state Rep. Todd Stephens talk to KYW Newsradio's Jim Melwert. Photo credit Amy Caples

Her 98th birthday was marked with a drive-by party, under a tent, in the rain. Now that she’s getting vaccinated, she and daughter Amy say they’re hopeful the 99th party can be in-person.