Victor Osborne, 102, of Nanaimo, who was born during the Spanish flu pandemic and took part in an influenza A vaccine trial while in the Royal Navy in 1934, will get his first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Monday, March 15. (News Bulletin file photo)

Victor Osborne, 102, of Nanaimo, who was born during the Spanish flu pandemic and took part in an influenza A vaccine trial while in the Royal Navy in 1934, will get his first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Monday, March 15. (News Bulletin file photo)

102-year-old B.C. veteran born during our last pandemic books his COVID-19 shot

Victor Osborne is no stranger to new vaccines

A Nanaimo senior who was born during the Spanish flu pandemic is about to get his first dose of vaccine during another pandemic more than 100 years later.

Victor Osborne, 102, was on the phone early Monday morning to ensure he was in line for some of the first COVID-19 immunizations available to seniors 90-plus. His appointment is scheduled for Monday, March 15, in the afternoon.

Osborne said he started calling the Island Health vaccination appointment number about two minutes before the lines opened at 7 a.m.

“I was two and a half hours on the phone…” Osborne said. “I was sure they were going to take me in that day. I finally got through. I was dialling that number. It was lousy. I finally got someone to answer.”

Osborne isn’t a stranger to new vaccines. He was 16 and serving aboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Hood in the mid-1930s when he saw a post asking for volunteers for trials to test the effects of poison gas, which involved exposure to skin of the trial participant’s arms, and for the trial of the influenza A vaccine. Influenza A, according to information from the Mayo Clinic, is a sub type of H1N1, the virus responsible for the Spanish flu pandemic.

“I was on board the battle cruiser Hood as a boy seaman,” Osborne said. “I saw the notice up on the notice board – this is about 1934 or ’35 – and then following the notice there was another note [that read] if you went for this poison gas test on one arm and another poison gas test on the other arm, each test would get five days’ leave, so naturally, I wanted to go home on leave.”

So Osborne volunteered for the trials.

“Well, lo and behold, I got the bloody flu and I wound up in the naval hospital for 10 days and it was really violent,” he said. “I was looking at the pictures on the wall in the hospital and it just looked like mud.”

To add insult to injury, when Osborne returned to his ship and reported to his duty officer, he was denied his leave, in spite of being in the hospital for 10 days.

“He said you were absent from place of duty. You’re not going to get any leave,” Osborne said.

Osborne transferred off HMS Hood to a New Zealand ship in 1937, about three years before it was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck during the Battle of the Denmark Strait in May 1941.

READ ALSO: Island Health opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

As for getting the shot against COVID-19, Osborne said he doesn’t have any concerns.

“I feel OK,” he said. “In the navy we get lots of shots. Yellow fever, you name it, but we didn’t have any choice and we had to take medication against malaria when I was out in Burma. You didn’t have any choice. They just did you whenever they wanted to.”

Once again, Osborne found out he won’t have a choice about which vaccine he’ll be inoculated with.

“I told them when I was speaking to them yesterday, ‘Do you mind giving me that one shot? I’ve been waiting this long and I’d like to live a bit longer,’” he said. “[They said], ‘No, you’ll have to take whatever they give you.’”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusVancouver Island Health AuthorityVeterans

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Student-nurse Kendra Waterstreet administers the Pfizer vaccine to Litia Fleming at the Waneta Plaza vaccination clinic in the old Zellers buiding. Photo: Jim Bailey
Trail vaccination clinic readies for adults age 40+

B.C.’s state of emergency is extended through the end of day on May 25

Kerry Reed
West Kootenay Fishing Report: Spring fishing, the bite is on!!

Anglers having great results on Kootenay Lake and Columbia River

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

For something a little different this week, Trail Blazers is featuring an historical image from the Kootenay Boundary. This rough and tumble photo shows the Forshaw Ranch near Phoenix, B.C, circa 1914. Photo Credit: Boundary Heritage Facebook Page (via Grand Forks Gazette)
Trail Blazers: Home, home on the range

Trail Blazers is a weekly historical feature

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge by Arrow Lakes

Bridge is in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Most Read