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​Immunizations for Older Adults

Vaccines are especially important for older adults. As you get older, your immune system weakens, and it can be more difficult to fight off infections. You're more likely to get diseases like the flu, pneumonia, and shingles — and to have complications that can lead to long-term illness, hospitalization, and even death.

If you have an ongoing health condition — like diabetes or heart disease — getting vaccinated is especially important. Vaccines can protect you from serious diseases (and related complications) so you can stay healthy as you age.

Which vaccines are recommended for adults age 65 and older?

Standard Recommended Vaccinations

There are several standard vaccinations recommended for most older adults.  They include:

  • Seasonal Flu (Influenza)
  • Pneumonia (pneumococcal)
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap or Td)
  • Shingles (Zoster)
Vaccines for People with Health Conditions

There are additional vaccinations that may be recommended based on specific health conditions — like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease or kidney disease.

Some of those vaccinations may include:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Meningococcal
Are there any vaccines I should not get?

Because of age, health conditions, or other factors, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them.  For this reason, it is important to consult with your doctor or other health care professional.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you have already had any of these vaccines or diseases. To make sure you get the vaccines you need, your doctor will also need to know your allergies and history of disease.

How to Pay for Vaccines

Medicare Coverage

Medicare generally covers most recommended vaccines but depending on your Medicare plan, you may have out-of-pocket costs for some. Contact Medicare to find out what's covered.

PACE Coverage

Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, PACE and PACENET, offer low-cost prescription medication, including immunizations, to qualified Pennsylvania residents, age 65 and older.

Where to Get Vaccinated

You can get most recommended vaccines at your doctor's office. Many recommended vaccines are also available at local pharmacies, health centers, health departments, and travel clinics.  You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging.