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Recommended Vaccines for Older People - An Overview

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Vaccines are essential to prevent life-threatening consequences of debilitating diseases. Read the article below to learn more about them.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rajesh Gulati

Published At March 7, 2023
Reviewed AtAugust 28, 2023


Vaccines are not just a childhood pastime. They play an essential role in protecting every phase of life. They become significant during old age, and risks to particular diseases climb higher. For elderly individuals, assisted living, or those in larger, populated care settings, vaccination is essential as the exposure risk to communicable diseases like pneumonia and flu is higher. Certain vaccines prove safe and effective in preventing several diseases that can have severe implications for older populations.

What Is a Vaccine?

Vaccines are an essential step in protecting the overall health of an individual. They reduce the risk of getting a disease by working with the body’s natural defenses to build protection. On administration of a vaccine, the body’s immune system starts responding. Vaccines are necessary for older adults. Risks of certain diseases are higher than age group, and it can be more challenging to fight off infections, and the immune system naturally weakens as individuals get older. Vaccines are bliss to the human race.

The infections like flu, tetanus, shingles, cough, COVID-19, and diphtheria increase the risk of complications that can lead to long-term illness and hospitalization. The factors that affect the vaccine recommendation. The recommended vaccines for adults are based on age, prior, health, lifestyle, occupation, sexual activity, and travel destination.

The vaccines that are recommended for older individuals are:

  • Influenza (Flu): The influenza vaccine is recommended for every individual from six months and older every year. Influenza is a respiratory virus. Getting the vaccine can decrease the risk of complications from the flu, like sinus, pneumonia, ear infections, brain, heart, or muscle tissue inflammation, multiple organ failure, or sepsis. The vaccines are particularly for ages 65 and above, creating more potent immune responses, high-dose flu, and adjuvant flu. An individual can receive either of the vaccines.

  • Pneumonia: The pneumonia vaccine is recommended as a one-time vaccine for individuals aged 65 and older. Pneumonia is caused by bacteria or virus that infects the lungs. The vaccine is 60 to 70 percent effective in preventing invasive diseases. An individual can get a vaccine from a healthcare provider's office.

  • Shingles: The shingles vaccine is recommended for individuals aged 50 or older, even if the individual had shingles in the past or had a previous shingles vaccine. It is a two-shot series; the second shot is given two to six months after the first. Shingle is a viral infection. The chickenpox virus remains inactive in the nerve tissue and can react as shingles. This can cause a painful, blistery rash on one side of the body. Shingles can also cause postherpetic neuralgia, which causes severe and debilitating pain. The vaccine is more excellent than 90 percent effective in preventing postherpetic neuralgia and shingles.

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (TDAP): Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine are recommended if one has not received a tetanus shot in the last ten years and has only had tetanus and diphtheria combined. Tetanus is caused by bacteria in manure, dirt, and soil and can impair the nervous system. Diphtheria is caused by a bacteria that attaches to the lining of the respiratory system, causes difficulty swallowing and breathing, and can get into the bloodstream and damage the heart, nerves, and kidneys. Pertussis can result in serious diseases, especially for vulnerable populations like young children and older adults. Pertussis can cause coughing fits due to bacteria that attach to the lining of the upper respiratory system.

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV vaccine is recommended at a younger age, and repeated doses are recommended for three doses. HPV is a common virus that is responsible for leading to cancer.

  • Hepatitis B: This is recommended for all adults aged 19 to 59. The vaccine is also recommended for adults like 60 and above who have a possible risk of developing hepatitis B. It is not recommended for those aged 60 and above without risk factors. The Hepatitis B vaccine is a condition that affects the liver.

  • COVID-19: The risk of severe disease increases with age, so it is recommended for older adults. The Covid-19 vaccine helps prevent severe illness and its side effects. It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against the coronavirus that leads to COVID-19. An individual is not fully vaccinated until two doses. Only after the second dose does the vaccination process complete. Both doses are 94 to 95 percent effective, while a single dose is 66 percent effective.

  • Travel Vaccines: If an individual is planning to travel to other countries, vaccines are required and recommended based on other destinations, medical history, and planned activities. Multiple doses are needed. It is best to spend four to six weeks before travel, and time is required to build immunity. The most common travel vaccines are Covid-19, MMR, Japanese measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, flu, cholera, and chicken pox.

What Is the Preventive Test for Older Individuals?

The preventive test for older individuals are as follows:

  • Safety and Functional Abilities: Check older adults for any recent falls or functional impairment, and assess home safety for elder mistreatment.

  • Substance Abuse, Cognitive and Mental Health: Tobacco or alcohol misuse, cognitive impairment, signs, and symptoms of depression and loneliness.

  • Physical screening for obesity, hepatitis C, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), STI (sexually transmitted disease), high and low blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol.

  • Cancer screening for lung, prostate, breast, cervical, and colon cancer.

  • Coronary artery and carotid disease screening by ECG and carotid artery testing.


Globally, the proportion of older people is rapidly increasing. Infections in this age group mainly occur due to many viral infections, recently with SARS-CoV-2, leading to more substantial mortality and morbidity. Many improvements are made in vaccines that are delivered to older individuals by adding novel adjuvants, a new recombinant zoster vaccine, and influenza vaccine or by increasing antigen concentration. Vaccines are safe and helpful for the severe consequences of the disease. The common side effects are swelling, pain, and redness when the vaccine is administered. Talk in detail with the healthcare provider before getting vaccinated.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is It Safe For A 65-year-old To Take Covid Vaccine?

COVID (COrona VIrus Disease of 2019) vaccine is safe for the elderly and recommended since they are susceptible to severe COVID illness. New recommendations by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have stated the use of additional vaccine doses for individuals older than 65 for better COVID protection.


What Vaccines Can Be Administered To The Elderly In India?

Most vaccines are safe and effective in the elderly population. Pneumococcal, influenza, tetanus, and zoster vaccines for the elder age group must be included in the national immunization program in India. However, India does not have a compulsory list for elderly vaccination.


Which Vaccine Is A Must For Seniors?

The pneumococcal vaccine is a must for all seniors aged above 65 years. The vaccine protects against serious infections like pneumonia. To protect against COVID administration of booster doses is recommended for senior citizens. The influenza vaccine is recommended for the elderly age group. Administration of shingles and tetanus vaccines is also recommended.


Can Senior Citizens Get Vaccinated?

Vaccines are important for senior citizens since their immune system weakens over time, and it may become difficult for them to fight infections. The elderly are more susceptible to flu, shingles, and pneumonia, which can cause severe illness, hospitalization, and even death. Therefore, vaccination is important.


What Age Group Can Covishield Be Administered?

Covishield is approved for all individuals over 18 years of age. The vaccine is used in patients with or without comorbid conditions. However, using the Covishield vaccine for individuals over 65 years suffering from low platelet count has been halted.


Which Vaccine Is Recommended for a Weak Immune System?

TDAP vaccine (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Acellular Pertussis) is recommended for individuals with weakened or compromised immune systems. Influenza shots must be administered every year for protection from the flu. Two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are administered four weeks apart, followed by an additional dose in the 8th week and a booster dose after four months.


Which Pneumonia Vaccine Is Recommended for Senior Citizens?

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV 13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine of (PPSV23) are recommended for senior citizens. PCV 13 is administered as a single dose in senior citizens with comorbidity of kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes.


Is There a Reason for AstraZeneca to Be Recommended to Senior Citizens?

Clinical trials have shown that AstraZeneca provides adequate protection to older citizens and younger adults. The vaccine had fewer risks and better benefits for the elderly population. The AstraZeneca vaccine was proven to be better tolerated among the elderly.


Should Adults Take Hepatitis B Vaccines?

The vaccine is recommended for adults between 19 to 59 years of age. All adults above 60 years with risk factors or without identified risk factors for developing hepatitis B must take the vaccine. Adults who are moderately or severely ill must wait until they recover to get the hepatitis B vaccine.


Can Hepatitis B Vaccine Be Taken at Any Age?

All age groups can take the Hepatitis B vaccine. All unvaccinated infants, children, and adolescents below 19 must take the vaccine. For adults between 19 to 59 or older than 60, the vaccine is recommended to be taken if any risk factors are present.


Which Vaccine Helps Boost Immunity?

Vaccines such as tetanus and diphtheria, TDAP, MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), zoster, pneumococcus, and varicella can boost immunity in children. The vaccine helps the body defend against diseases to prevent developing dangerous infections.


How to Describe a Bivalent Vaccine?

Bivalent vaccines stimulate an immune response against two different antigens, like two different microorganisms or antigens. For example, bivalent COVID-19 vaccines contain a component of the original virus strain and protect against COVID-19 and its omicron variant.


What Is Meant by Immunization or Vaccination?

Vaccination is the method of vaccine administration in oral or injection form. Vaccines are inoculated in healthy individuals to facilitate the natural defense system (antibodies) in the body to build resistance against infection. Immunization is the process of getting a vaccine and developing immunity against disease. Immunization develops within the body through vaccines and does not require any inoculation. Vaccine does not ensure complete disease resistance whereas immunity develops when an individual recovers from the disease.


When Did Inoculation Get Banned?

Inoculation was first introduced as a treatment for smallpox, but it was banned in 1940 by the European government. Even though inoculation was widely used, it became controversial since few people considered inoculation to be deadlier than contracting smallpox naturally. The demerits of inoculation are that sometimes, it leads to full-blown disease or being contagious.


What Are the Diseases That Can Be Prevented With Vaccination?

- Polio - It is a deadly infectious disease caused by viruses in children. The polio infection is contagious and affects one's brain and spinal cord, leading to paralysis. The use of the polio vaccine has eliminated the disease in developed countries.

- Tetanus - The condition induces painful lockjaw and muscle stiffness. The DTaP vaccine has recently been administered to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis ( whooping cough).

- Influenza Flu - It is a respiratory illness affecting the nose, throat, and lungs. Vaccinating pregnant mothers can protect infants from influenza.

- Hepatitis B - It spreads through contaminated blood or body fluids. It is a long-term illness that can lead to death among the infected. It is important to vaccinate pregnant women and infants from the disease.

- Hepatitis A - It is a contagious disease of the liver that spreads through contaminated food and water. Vaccination can reduce disease incidence among babies.

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Dr. Rajesh Gulati
Dr. Rajesh Gulati

Family Physician


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