111-year-old woman gets COVID vaccine, says wine, beer, eating 'what I like' her secret to longevity

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Sunday, February 21, 2021
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Maria Aulenbacher is the oldest known person to receive the coronavirus vaccine in South Carolina. CNN's Gary Tuchman speaks to the 111-year-old who shares her secret to a long life.

GREENVILLE, South Carolina -- As of this week, nearly 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered across the U.S.

One of those recipients was 111-year-old Maria Aulenbacher, the oldest known person in the state of South Carolina -- and became one of the oldest people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 Friday.

Aulenbacher lives with her daughter and son-in-law near the Blue Ridge Mountains, and two of her grandchildren and a great-grandson live nearby.

Yet she lived in Germany for most of her life and moved to the United States shortly after her 100th birthday. Her family affectionately calls her "omi," which means "grammy" in German.

The centenarian is incredibly optimistic. She loves her family, reading and naps, and has a daily ritual that she's convinced has increased her longevity.

"Everything is normal. I drink wine, I drink beer. I eat what I like," she said.

MORE: World's 2nd oldest person, French nun who survived COVID, celebrates 117th birthday with wine, prayer

Aulenbacher was a young girl during World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic. She became a widow in her 30s, more than 75 years ago.

Her daughter and son-in-law said she's had to be strong.

"We look forward to seeing her every morning come out, cheerful, ready to have breakfast, couple of cups of coffee, and take on the day," said Doug Dickerson, Aulenbacher's son-in-law.

Birgit Dickerson, her daughter, said she felt like her mother's COVID-19 vaccination was a part of her civic duty.

"Everybody has to get this vaccine because if we ever want to ever get over this, we all have to go and have the vaccine," Birgit Dickerson said.

Aulenbacher is well aware she is a now a role model.

"I'm very happy to get the shot," she said.

Aulenbacher joked that she hopes to live as long as Methuselah, a biblical figure who lived to the age of 969.

"I really feel blessed that I can have her for such a long time, and I hope I have her many more years," Birgit Dickerson said.