Recommended Vaccines for Seniors

As you get older, you get wiser—but unfortunately, your immune system may not work as well. It has more trouble fighting off infections as you age, which makes you more likely to get illnesses like the flu, pneumonia, and shingles. Luckily there are vaccines for adults that can protect against these illnesses. Find out which vaccinations are highly recommended, and get an appointment at Oak Street to get your immunizations.

Why Do Seniors Need Vaccines?

If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you’re even more at risk of getting sick. Getting the recommended vaccines should be part of your overall well-being plan.

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Which Vaccines Do Seniors Need?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following vaccines for older adults:

  • Flu vaccine, once a year
  • Shingles vaccine
  • Pneumonia vaccine
  • Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) OR tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster shot, every 10 years
  • COVID-19 vaccine

A small percentage of people should not get vaccines, due to allergies or certain conditions. Talk to your primary care doctor about any concerns you have, and make sure that your care team has your full medical history so they can make educated decisions about your health plan, including which vaccinations are necessary.

How to Get Vaccinations

There are plenty of resources out there for adults over 65 to get access to preventive healthcare, including vaccinations. Oak Street has primary care doctors who specifically work with seniors, and are familiar with the appropriate vaccinations to give.

You can make an appointment through Oak Street, and get vaccinated through top primary care doctors in your area. You can even continue ongoing care with one of our many doctors

Getting a shot isn’t something most people look forward to, but it’s much better than getting sick with the flu or pneumonia. These types of illnesses are especially dangerous for those over 65, as they can cause serious complications and even death.

Flu Vaccine for Seniors

Every adult should get a seasonal flu shot, but it’s even more important for seniors. The CDC estimates that up to 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths in recent years have been among people 65 years and older.

Wondering why you need a flu shot every year? The flu—also known as influenza—is a virus that is always mutating. Because it changes, new shots are needed each season to more effectively fight it.

Medicare Part B covers one flu shot per season. Older adults should always get the flu shot, not a nasal spray vaccine.

Shingles Vaccine for Seniors

Shingles is caused by the same virus that leads to chickenpox. It involves a very painful rash with blisters and can sometimes lead to long-term nerve pain where the rash was, even after it has cleared.

Almost a third of people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime, and your risk increases as you get older. A shot known as the recombinant zoster vaccine is recommended to prevent shingles in adults 50 and older. It is covered by Medicare Part D, the optional add-on drug plan of Medicare, and most Medicare Advantage plans.

What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs that can be life-threatening. It is commonly caused by pneumococcal bacteria, which can also lead to:

  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Meningitis (infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)

Pneumonia Vaccine for Seniors

There are two shots that protect against different types of the bacteria that cause pneumonia:

  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23): recommended for all adults 65 years and older (you should get a dose of PPSV23 even if you already got a dose of the vaccine before turning 65)
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13): recommended for all adults with a condition that weakens the immune system

Medicare Part B covers the first pneumococcal shot at any time, and also covers a different second shot if it’s given one year or later after the first shot.

Td and Tdap Boosters for Seniors

If you’ve never received a Tdap shot, you should get one to protect against the respiratory infection pertussis, also known as whooping cough. You’ll need booster shots every 10 years. These will also help protect against tetanus and diphtheria, both of which are bacterial infections.

These shots are covered by Medicare Part D and most Medicare Advantage plans.

COVID-19 Vaccine for Seniors

There’s a new vaccine recommended for everyone who is eligible: the COVID-19 vaccine. Through various trials, the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. There are three reasons to get a COVID-19 vaccine, if you haven’t already:

  • You’ll protect yourself from COVID-19. More than 4 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide. Getting the vaccine greatly reduces your chances of becoming sick with novel coronavirus, and if you do, you’re much less likely to fall seriously ill.
  • You’ll protect others from COVID-19. Those who do get COVID-19 are highly contagious. When you reduce your chances of getting it, you reduce your chances of spreading it.
  • You’ll help end the pandemic. The more people who are vaccinated, the more likely we can stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading and resume life as we used to know it.

There is no cost to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Other Vaccines for Seniors

There may be other vaccines you should consider, based on your circumstances. For example, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for hepatitis B, a liver infection, and should get the vaccine if they haven’t already. Medicare Part B will cover this if you’re at medium or high risk for hepatitis B.

Our Medicare doctors and other healthcare professionals can also help you figure out which vaccines you should get, along with what’s covered under your insurance plan.

Staying up to date with your vaccines just might save your life—that’s worth a poke or two.

Where to Get Vaccines for Seniors

Oak Street Health has 10 centers in the Philadelphia area that accept Medicare, including:

  • Aramingo
  • Cheltenham
  • Cobbs Creek
  • Fern Rock
  • Germantown
  • Parkside
  • Roosevelt
  • South Philly
  • Strawberry Mansion
  • University City

In addition to our Pennsylvania locations, Oak Street Health also has centers that accept Medicare in 17 other states.