Older Pennsylvanians Urged to Get Flu and COVID-19 Vaccines

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — At a combined flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster clinic yesterday, the Pennsylvania Departments of Aging and Health, joined by Sen. Art Haywood and Philadelphia city leaders, stressed the importance of older adults getting their immunizations, particularly with the cold and influenza (flu) season approaching and the ongoing threat of COVID-19’s highly transmissible variants.

“We encourage older adults to stay up to date on their immunizations, particularly the COVID-19 booster. Both the flu and COVID-19 booster vaccines are available at many locations in local communities, including pharmacies, health care providers, or clinics like this one at the West Oak Lane Senior Center. This easy access to immunizations is a great way to get both of these important vaccinations and have peace of mind as we approach colder weather,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres.

Secretary Torres emphasized the importance for older adults, especially those with chronic health conditions like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, to stay up to date on their vaccinations and learn which inoculations are covered by their health care insurance.

The CDC reported that it is safe to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.

“With the upcoming holidays and more gatherings indoors, we encourage eligible older adults to receive the flu and COVID-19 booster at the same time to stay safe and to keep each other protected from severe illness,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson.

“As a member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, I pushed for equity in vaccine distribution across the commonwealth. Thank you to the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Aging, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health for helping older adults in Northwest Philadelphia get access to the vaccine, which saves lives,” said Sen. Haywood.

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The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that attacks the nose, throat, lungs and may include the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion; and
  • body aches

Similarly, COVID-19 symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • diarrhea
  • chills
  • repeated shaking with chills
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • sore throat; and
  • new loss of taste or smell

In addition to the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster, older adults are advised to get the following immunizations:

  • tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine, or Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine – adults aged 19 and older one dose with booster dose every 10 years;
  • pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine or PPSV23 – adults aged 65 and older; and
  • shingles (Herpes Zoster) vaccination – adults aged 50 and older, two doses for those 60 and above

Any questions relating to healthcare concerns should be brought to the attention of an individual’s healthcare provider. However, there is support available for older Pennsylvanians to get their immunizations:

  • to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider, visit www.vaccines.gov.
  • older adults may be able to receive their flu shot and COVID booster at their local senior center; they should contact their local Area Agency on Aging listed here to ask if any vaccination clinics are being conducted in their area.
  • for more information on vaccines for older adults with chronic health conditions and how to pay for vaccines, visit the Department of Aging’s website here.
  • learn more about the various other programs offered by the Department of Aging here.

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