I’m over 65. Do I really need another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?


People over 65 in the US are now eligible for an additional COVID-19 vaccine. If you didn’t get a vaccine this fall, have chronic health conditions, or have important spring and summer events planned, you should get a dose now.

Following a review of vaccine data by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on February 28th, 2024, the US CDC announced that people over age 65 should receive a COVID-19 vaccine this spring if it has been at least 4 months since their last dose. COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to disproportionately affect older people. Among adults hospitalized for COVID-19 this winter, 95% did not receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine in the fall of 2023.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “COVID-19-Associated Hospitalizations Among Adults – COVID-NET, 2023-2024” Presented to the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices on February 28, 2024.

The 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe, but many people haven’t received one. MANY people would benefit from a first or second dose of the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine this spring. People who got an updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine were half as likely to have a symptomatic COVID-19 infection and half as likely be hospitalized if infected compared to people who did not get the updated vaccine. Everyone over age 65 is recommended to get an additional dose. But for some older people this additional dose is more urgent.

If you didn’t receive a 2023-2024 updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall and you are over 65, go get a dose now. Unlike the flu, COVID-19 outbreaks continue to occur outside the winter respiratory season. There’s a clear benefit to getting at least one dose of the updated vaccine. The dose you get this spring is the same formulation that was available in the fall (targeting XBB1.5). The data continue to support the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety, even against new variants. Older people with chronic heart and lung diseases like congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, COPD, and asthma should prioritize a spring vaccine, even if they had one in the fall. Older people with underlying health conditions remain at high risk for complications, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 infection. Older people living in nursing homes, assisted living, or communities with large shared dining should receive an additional dose as COVID-19 is more likely to spread quickly in these environments.

The CDC previously issued guidance for moderately to severely immunocompromised people of all ages who are also eligible for an additional 2023-2024 dose. For people under 65, hang tight for further vaccine updates! We recognize the uncertainty and promise to share the latest science and recommendations when they are available.

COVID is still crashing weddings, vacations, and holidays. If it has been 4 months or more since your last COVID-19 infection or vaccine dose, an extra COVID-19 vaccine decreases the risk of infection and severe symptoms, allowing you to enjoy spring and summer festivities. There are very few downsides to receiving an additional dose with the upside of prolonged protection against infection and hospitalization.

It’s not as easy to find a COVID-19 vaccine as it was in 2022 for a number of reasons. If you are unsuccessful in your first attempt, try again. Insurers are required to cover these vaccines until the end of 2024 and uninsured people can go to vaccines.gov to find free vaccines via the “Bridge” program.
People over age 65 can get a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine dose starting now. Go for it!

Those Nerdy Girls

Link to Original Substack Post