Key Takeaways

  • Older adults continue to be at highest risk for COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death. Vaccines offer strong protection.

  • An updated COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone age 5 and older. Some people may need multiple doses.

  • Talk to your health care provider about the best timing and frequency of your updated COVID vaccine.

Older adults continue to be at highest risk for COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death due to lessening immunity that occurs over time.1 This is why getting your updated COVID vaccine is so important if you’re age 50 or older or in another high-risk group.  

What are the latest CDC guidelines for COVID vaccines?

To protect against serious illness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends one dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine—designed to target the newest variants—for everyone age 5 and older. These vaccine recommendations will be updated over time as needed. The most recent update to the COVD vaccine happened in September 2023.

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may be advised to get additional doses of an updated COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I wait to get my updated COVID vaccine?

If you recently had COVID-19, you may think about delaying your vaccine dose by three months. There are certain situations where you should delay getting an updated COVID vaccine. These include:

  • If you currently have COVID, wait until after your isolation period before you receive your vaccination.
  • If you have multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS), you should wait until it's been at least 90 days since your diagnosis and you've recovered from your illness.

Talk to your health care provider about the best timing and frequency of your COVID vaccine, especially if you recently received a COVID shot, you were recently infected with COVID-19, or you are immunocompromised.

Where to get your COVID vaccine

You can typically get vaccines at your doctor’s office or at your local pharmacy. In addition, many senior centers and other community-based organizations hold vaccine clinics regularly. If you have Medicare, it should cost you nothing to get your COVID shot.

“The good news is that there was a law passed that mandates that Medicare and Medicaid cover COVID and flu vaccines as well as other vaccines at no out-of-pocket costs for older adults,” said Kathleen Cameron, Senior Director of the NCOA Center for Healthy Aging.

Find a vaccine appointment near you at Vaccines.gov, or by texting your ZIP code to 438829, or by calling 1-800-232-0233, TTY 1-888-720-7489.

If you or a loved one is living with a disability, you can find COVID-19 vaccine support by calling the Disability Information and Access Line at 1-888-677-1199 or emailing DIAL@n4a.org.

Vaccines can protect against Long COVID

Some people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience long-term effects from their infection, known as Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions (PCC). Long COVID is broadly defined as signs, symptoms, and conditions that continue or develop after acute COVID-19 infection that can last weeks, months, or years.

Research suggests that people who get a COVID-19 infection after vaccination are less likely to report Long COVID, compared to people who are unvaccinated.2 Another reason to get vaccinated. 

Help spread the word: COVID vaccines save lives

To date, more than 1.1 million lives have been lost in the United States to COVID-19.3 But there’s so much we can do to protect ourselves against the virus—including wearing a well-fitting mask in public spaces, washing our hands frequently, and staying-up to date on our vaccines.

The science behind COVID-19 vaccination continues to evolve, and researchers are working on answering such questions as whether a yearly COVID-19 shot will be common practice for everyone. Meanwhile, updated vaccines tailored toward potential new COVID variants are in the works.

Talk with your doctor about ways to reduce your COVID risk. As you think about your own personal protection against COVID-19 and the more than 1 million lives lost, strongly consider getting your updated vaccine—or your first if you have not received yours yet. Vaccines are safe and effectiive and save lives! 

Sources

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Risks and Information for Older Adults. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/aging/covid19/index.html 

2. Alexandra R Marra, et al. The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine in the prevention of post-COVID conditions: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis of the latest research. Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology. Oct.13, 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antimicrobial-stewardship-and-healthcare-epidemiology/article/effectiveness-of-covid19-vaccine-in-the-prevention-of-postcovid-conditions-a-systematic-literature-review-and-metaanalysis-of-the-latest-research/A0B115B5D3AA60846799857B801D116E

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker. Found on the internet at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home