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Flu Vaccination - Ages 65+
Flu Vaccination - Ages 65+ in United States
United States

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Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported receiving a seasonal flu vaccine in the past 12 months

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Flu Vaccination - Ages 65+ by State

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported receiving a seasonal flu vaccine in the past 12 months

Flu Vaccination - Ages 65+ Trends

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported receiving a seasonal flu vaccine in the past 12 months

Trend: Flu Vaccination - Ages 65+ in United States, 2023 Senior Report

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported receiving a seasonal flu vaccine in the past 12 months

United States

 CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

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About Flu Vaccination - Ages 65+

US Value: 67.5%

Top State(s): Rhode Island: 76.5%

Bottom State(s): Alaska: 58.5%

Definition: Percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported receiving a seasonal flu vaccine in the past 12 months

Data Source and Years: CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

The flu vaccine helps protect individuals against seasonal flu viruses, which can pose a serious threat to the health of older adults. As immune defense systems weaken with age, older adults have an increased risk of developing serious health complications from the flu. The rate of flu-related deaths is highest among adults ages 65 and older compared with all other age groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated more than 568,000 flu cases, around 50,000 flu-related hospitalizations and over 3,800 deaths occurred among adults ages 65 and older during the 2021-2022 flu season. In the 2010-2011 flu season, flu-related hospitalizations were 56% lower among older adults who received flu shots.

Flu vaccination is a cost-effective intervention with direct savings estimated at more than $100 for every older adult who receives the vaccine. A recent study found that the annual economic burden of influenza among older adults ages 65 and older was $2.4 billion, including direct medical and indirect medical costs.

Populations of older adults with higher seasonal flu vaccination coverage include:

  • Asian and white older adults compared with Hispanic, Black, and multiracial older adults.
  • Older adults who are college graduates compared with those with less than a high school education.
  • Older adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more compared with those with incomes less than $25,000.
  • Older adults living in metropolitan areas compared with those in non-metropolitan areas.

It is recommended that everyone older than 6 months get a flu shot every season unless told otherwise by a doctor. In addition to the regular-dose shot, there are two forms of the flu vaccine available for older adults: a high-dose shot and an adjuvanted shot, both of which are specifically designed for people ages 65 and older. The high-dose shot, which has four times the amount of antigen of a regular dose, elicits a stronger immune response, yet the CDC recommends older adults receive whichever form is available to them.

Medicare covers the cost of one flu shot every flu season. Efforts to provide flu shots to populations of older adults with low vaccine coverage involve delivering vaccines in informal and trusted community-based settings. This approach may also help to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in flu vaccination rates. 

The CDC offers many flu resources, including treatment and prevention strategies, as well as guidance to help manage flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

Healthy People 2030 aims to increase the percentage of all persons receiving an annual influenza vaccine.

Duncan, Ian G., Michael S. Taitel, Junjie Zhang, and Heather S. Kirkham. 2012. “Planning Influenza Vaccination Programs: A Cost Benefit Model.” Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation 10 (1): 10.

Havers, Fiona, Leslie Sokolow, David K. Shay, Monica M. Farley, Maya Monroe, James Meek, Pam Daily Kirley, et al. 2016. “Case-Control Study of Vaccine Effectiveness in Preventing Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Hospitalizations in Older Adults, United States, 2010–2011.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 63 (10): 1304–11.

Putri, Wayan C. W. S., David J. Muscatello, Melissa S. Stockwell, and Anthony T. Newall. 2018. “Economic Burden of Seasonal Influenza in the United States.” Vaccine 36 (27): 3960–66.

Shenson, Douglas, Mary Adams, Julie Bolen, Karen Wooten, Juliana Clough, Wayne H. Giles, and Lynda Anderson. 2012. “Developing an Integrated Strategy to Reduce Ethnic and Racial Disparities in the Delivery of Clinical Preventive Services for Older Americans.” American Journal of Public Health 102 (8): e44–50.

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