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Nearing 105, Julia 'Hurricane' Hawkins receives COVID-19 vaccine

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BATON ROUGE - Weeks ahead of her 105th birthday, Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins, a world record runner, rolled up her sleeve instead of lacing up her tennis shoes.

"I think it's a wonderful thing that we can [get the vaccine,]" Hawkins said Friday night at Our Lady of the Lake. "I've been hoping I would get it soon, and I'm glad that I did. I think it's what we all 'ought to do, to get rid of this pandemic."

The pandemic hasn't slowed Hawkins down. She still gets in her 30 minutes of "fast walking," as she puts it, almost every day.

In early March, as COVID-19 emerged in Louisiana, Hawkins' latest race, the Masters National Indoor Track & Field Championships at LSU, was canceled The 104-year-old was planning for that to be her final event.

Ten months later, the centenarian is still going strong. Just last week, she ran 100 yards down her street just to make sure she still had it in her.

"I'm amazed myself, that I can still do it, but I can," Hawkins said. "I can't see what I'm doing, but I can still do it."

Hawkins, a month away from turning 105, became eligible to receive the vaccine under the state's Phase 1b guidelines. OLOL started vaccinating that group Wednesday, and across three locations: the main campus on Essen Lane, the North Baton Rouge Clinic, and the Ascension location. Several hundred doses had been administered as of Friday night.

Before Hawkins knew it, she had her shot and was ready to head home.

"Oh, it was easy," Hawkins said. "Nothing to it. Nothing to it."

Hawkins' hobby, which as earned her world records and medals, has inspired many. She's now hoping her getting vaccinated does the same.

"The medical profession does wonderful things for us and we should take advantage of it," Hawkins said.

The 104-year-old will return in three weeks for her second dose, but she calls today's appointment an early birthday gift. What she wants the most, however, is something many hoping to move past the pandemic can relate to.

"Visit with my children," Hawkins said. "Four children."

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