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In the last decade, the percentage of older adults who have received flu vaccinations has improved. More recently, older adults have been receiving COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.

Flu Vaccination

The flu vaccine helps protect individuals against seasonal flu viruses and reduces the severity of illness for those who get sick. As immune defense systems weaken with age, older adults are at increased risk of contracting influenza viruses and having serious health complications as a result of infection.
Between 2011 and 2020
Nationally, the percentage of adults ages 65 and older who reported receiving a seasonal flu vaccine in the past 12 months significantly increased 11% from 60.6% to 67.3%, equaling about 35 million older adults in 2020. The percentage significantly increased 5% from 63.8% in 2019, reaching its highest value in 2020. Flu vaccination among older adults significantly increased in 26 states and the District of Columbia, led by: 32% in Illinois (54.7% to 72.1%), 28% in Rhode Island (56.6% to 72.7%) and 24% in both Michigan (58.0% to 71.7%) and New Hampshire (57.4% to 70.9%). During the same period, flu vaccination significantly decreased 8% in Louisiana (70.2% to 64.4%).
All income and some racial/ethnic, education and gender subpopulations experienced significant increases in flu vaccination. Among adults ages 65 and older, increases greater than the national change included:
Disparities in 2020
Flu vaccination among older adults was highest in Massachusetts (75.6%), North Carolina (74.6%) and Connecticut (74.0%); it was lowest in Alaska (56.1%), Wyoming (59.4%) and Florida (61.6%).
Flu vaccination significantly varied by race/ethnicity, education, income and metropolitan status; differences by gender were not notable. The prevalence among adults ages 65 and older was higher among:
  • Asian adults (75.5%), 1.5 times higher than among adults who identify as other race (51.6%). White adults (69.6%) also had a high prevalence, significantly higher than among multiracial (61.8%), Hispanic (58.6%), Black (57.8%) and American Indian/Alaska Native (55.5%) adults.
  • College graduates (74.4%) than among those with less than a high school education (58.4%). The prevalence was significantly higher with each increase in education level.
  • Those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more (74.2%) than among those with an income below $25,000 (60.6%). The prevalence was significantly higher among the top two income levels compared with the bottom two income levels.
  • Those living in metropolitan (68.1%) than among those living in non-metropolitan (63.6%) areas.

COVID-19 Vaccination

As of March 17, 2022, 88.9% of adults ages 65 and older were fully vaccinated, defined as having received the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or one dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. The prevalence of COVID-19 vaccination was highest in Vermont, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Maine and Connecticut (all 95.0%); it was lowest in Arkansas (79.6%), Alabama (81.2%) and Georgia (82.4%).
Additionally, 66.8% of fully vaccinated adults ages 65 and older later received a booster dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. The prevalence of older adults with a COVID-19 vaccination and a booster dose was highest in Minnesota (81.5%), Wisconsin (79.9%) and Vermont (78.9%); it was lowest in New Hampshire (35.6%), North Carolina (39.5%) and Georgia (55.1%). Additional COVID-19 data are available on the website.

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