Apopka man, 101, gets COVID vaccination: ‘I was told I should have it’

Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel
·3 min read

At 101, Jose Ros was wary about getting the COVID-19 vaccine before health workers at the Orange County Convention Center shot it in his arm Friday.

“I was told that I should have it,” he said lounging in rear seat of his son-in-law’s SUV.

Ros didn’t see the need for vaccination, said son-in-law, Rafael “Ralph” Terrero, 79, who chauffeured the centenarian to the convention center.

“He’s a person who has been really healthy all his life, never sick,” Terrero said. “He never goes to the doctor, never gets vaccinated for anything. He never has a shot.”

Ros, an accomplished fast-pitch softball player in his youth in Cuba, regularly played tennis into his 90 1/4 u2032s.

But Terrero and wife Ada, Ros’ daughter, worried they might bring the potentially deadly virus home, where he lives with the couple in Apopka.

“We sometimes go out for things like the groceries and, you know, even though we’ve got our shots already, we worry we can still bring it home to him,” Terrero said.

“I didn’t want to have him unprepared, not vaccinated, just in case,” Terrero said. “Because if he gets sick, then it falls on us. Like we’re not taking care of this guy.”

Ada Terrero convinced her healthy dad to get the shot to prevent adding to the county’s COVID death toll which stood at 1,060 deaths as of Thursday.

“I think it’s important that everybody in the household gets a vaccination to protect each other,” she said. “If one gets sick, all the others follow...You never know.”

Ros said he felt good getting the shot while Orange County government communications filmed the event to encourage other reluctant seniors to get vaccinated.

The nurses fussed over him.

Ros, who will celebrate his 102nd birthday in June, is not the oldest Orange County resident to be inoculated.

Dr. Raul Pino, state health officer in Orange County, reported that a 113-year-old Orlando woman holds that distinction.

If true, Pino said, the woman has experienced two pandemics in her lifetime - COVID and the 1918 influenza estimated to have killed 50 million people worldwide.

“That will be an interesting conversation to have,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic is blamed for about 2.5 million deaths, about 500,000 in the U.S, according to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Orange County Public Safety Director Danny Banks said the state prioritized seniors because they are most vulnerable to the respiratory disease spawned by the virus.

“We know them to be at the highest risk,” he said. “That [population] has the highest number of deaths we see.”

More than 110,000 people age 65 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Orange County, according to state health data through Feb. 18.

Pino said that represents about 45 % of the county’s senior population.

shudak@orlandosentinel.com

Adelaide Chen contributed to this report.