Talk to Patients About: Vaccines for Older Adults
By Alisa Pierce


With age comes wisdom and experience – and the ongoing need for certain vaccinations.

The list of recommended vaccines for patients over the age of 65 is not short: flu, COVID-19, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap), pneumococcal, and shingles. 

As with younger patients, conversations with older adults around vaccines still may involve various questions and hesitancies. Some older patients, for instance, may be skeptical of new vaccines, like COVID boosters, or ask about higher flu doses.

For Austin internal medicine specialist Tony Aventa, MD, his message, is usually the same: “Vaccines are designed to protect both individuals and our community,” he said. “Some older patients may already be grandparents and may have some child care duties. Immunizations, like Tdap, keep these patients healthy while they take care of their family.” 

Galveston family physician Samuel Mathis, MD, finds many older adults choosing to forgo their COVID booster, and finds himself warning these patients of evolving strains of the virus. 

In Texas, as of January, 30.5% of adults aged 65 or older had received the bivalent booster for COVID, falling behind the national average of 39%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevntion. Among various responses to the low uptake, the Biden Administration has provided additional funding for senior centers, in-home vaccinations, and community health centers.  

“The problem is that COVID-19 is changing,” Dr. Mathis said. Until then, he continues to take small steps to answer big vaccine questions.

“The answer is walking patients through vaccine guidelines while recognizing that patients are trying their best with the information they’re given,” he said. “Then it takes just explaining the process of the disease and how the vaccine is meant to help.” 


Last Updated On

March 01, 2023

Originally Published On

February 27, 2023

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Alisa Pierce

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(512) 370-1469
Alisa Pierce

Alisa Pierce is a reporter for Texas Medicine. After graduating from Texas State University, she worked in local news, covering state politics, public health, and education. Alongside her news writing, Alisa covered up-and-coming artists in Central Texas and abroad as a music journalist. As a Texas native, she enjoys capturing the landscape on her film camera while hiking her way across the Lonestar State.

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