Why You Should Get the COVID Vaccine and Booster Right Now


Over the last few years, we’ve all been caught in a global crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. When the coronavirus first began making headlines in early 2020, it was seen as something that would run its course and then go away if everyone took the proper precautions. But as viruses tend to do, COVID mutated and changed over time, creating new variants that even today are keeping concerns about COVID alive and well.

Scientists all over the world joined forces to fight back. We now have vaccines – the most common offered through Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson – that are a proven defense against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. In fact, the CDC reports that adults 65 and older who received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines reduced their risk of COVID-related hospitalization by a whopping 94%!

Many elderly Americans take precautions to protect themselves as they get older. They consider modifying their homes for aging in place, take care to go to the doctor on a regular basis, and invest in life-saving medical alert technology. It’s time for America’s seniors to take that a step further and get the vaccines and the booster – if you haven’t already.

The Risks of COVID for the Elderly

The pandemic has been hard on most people, but especially so for the elderly, who are at much greater risk of death or serious illness if they contract the virus. The risk of serious illness from COVID increases with age, with those aged 85 and older at the greatest risk of hospitalization or death. One of the reasons is that as we age, our immune systems change, and often become less robust. That can lead to contracting viruses more often, including the common cold. More transmissible strains of COVID can also take hold more easily.

In addition, those who have underlying conditions are at the greatest risk. The National Institute on Aging reports that 85% of older adults have one chronic health condition, while 60% have at least two. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this tragic scenario played out in nursing homes throughout the pandemic, with over 200,000 deaths reported among residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

However, as wide-scale vaccinations take hold, we seem to be moving in a more positive direction. According to the CDC, though the number of COVID cases reported in long-term care facilities was higher than ever in January 2022, the rate of deaths from COVID among that population was significantly lower than during the height of the pandemic. What made the difference was the fact that as of January 2022, 82% of nursing home staff and 87% of nursing home residents were fully vaccinated.

Even elderly adults who aren’t in a nursing home often interact with many people, including family, friends, and caregivers. Some might believe that being isolated at home keeps them safe, and it certainly helps. But those that you interact with might be out in public and at risk of contracting the virus, allowing the potential for them to unknowingly bring it back to you.

COVID Vaccine Facts

Let’s start with one of the biggest myths about vaccines in general, and that’s the idea that vaccines are only necessary for children. Though children are definitely in need of vaccinations for a wide variety of diseases, adults need boosters to refresh their protection against those same diseases. Since senior adults face a greater risk of complications, they need boosters as well. In fact, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases recommends adults aged 65 and older have up-to-date vaccines against 15 different diseases. That includes vaccination against COVID.

There is also a wealth of misinformation about vaccines in general and COVID vaccines in particular. In fact, there’s so much confusion that in an Alliance for Aging Research survey of 1,000 older adults, 57 percent were not confident in the safety and validity of the vaccine. That’s why the organization created Our Best Shot: The Truth About Vaccines for You and Your Loved Ones. This free fact sheet provides a wealth of good information from reliable sources about the COVID vaccines and why they matter so much.

Why the COVID Booster Matters

While the initial vaccine for anything will invoke a reaction in the body that then protects you against the virus, eventually that protection begins to wear off. Since scientists aren’t yet sure just how long the covid vaccine protection will last, the CDC recommends boosters at least five months after getting the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, and two months after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This helps ensure that the protection doesn’t wane. It might also help protect you against emerging variants.

How to Get Your Vaccine or Booster

The easiest way for most people to get their vaccine or booster is through their doctor’s office. Simply make an appointment and go get it done. If there are no appointments available, healthcare clinics and pharmacies in your area likely have a supply of vaccines and boosters ready to go. Give them a call to determine what they have available and the hours during which you can get the injection. Many facilities allow you to book an appointment online, as well.

In some cases, you can even stay in your vehicle and someone will come out to you to give you the vaccine or booster. This makes it easier for those with limited mobility and helps ensure better social distancing.

If you have difficulty getting out of your home to get the vaccine, there may be options that would bring the vaccine to you. Speak to your physician about what might be available for your situation.

Other Steps to Protect Yourself During the Pandemic

There was a time at the beginning of the pandemic when it seemed the crisis would be over soon, and we could all go back to living normal lives. Hopes for the end of the pandemic have changed over the last few months as new strains emerge, some of them more transmissible or more deadly than the original one. This means that you must still protect yourself from COVID in whatever way you can.

·         Wear a mask. Though mask mandates are a bone of contention around the country, experts still consider them one of our best protections against contracting or spreading the virus. Look for a mask that is rated N95 or KN95. These masks are much better at keeping out tiny particles of the virus than the more popular cloth masks.

·         Wash your hands. Keeping your hands clean is a front-line defense against all sorts of viruses. Wash your hands often, but especially before eating, after using the restroom, and after touching things that might have been touched by others, such as picking up items at the grocery store.

·         Don’t touch your face. Even if you have germs on your hands, you can avoid spreading them by not touching your face until you’ve washed your hands. This can be tough to do – some research says we touch our face 23 times in an hour! Make your best effort.

·         Maintain social distance. Social distancing of six feet or more can help avoid the spread of COVID. Pay attention when you are in a more crowded space, such as a grocery store, and provide ample room between you and others.

·         Limit trips to crowded areas. It might not be a good idea to go to a crowded restaurant, theater, or other event, especially if you are immunocompromised. In some areas, you must show proof of vaccination in order to spend time in an area where social distancing isn’t possible, such as a concert.

·         Visit with friends outdoors. When friends and family come to visit, consider meeting with them outdoors. Dinner on the patio or a meet-and-greet on your front porch, in the open air, can help alleviate the spread of COVID if someone happens to have it.

·         Ask close companions to get tested. Caregivers, friends, and family who might have been exposed to COVID should be tested for it. The government now offers free COVID tests, and you can often find rapid tests at your neighborhood pharmacy for an affordable price. If someone does test positive, they should immediately quarantine and speak to their doctor about the next steps.

·         Get all your vaccines. The COVID vaccine is very important, but so are other vaccines. Remember, even the flu can be deadly for those who have underlying conditions. Speak to your physician about which shots you need right now.

·         Maintain good health. Take good care of yourself by keeping up with doctor’s appointments, taking all your medications, eating healthy, and getting the appropriate amount of exercise. The stronger and healthier your body is, the more likely you are to fight off illness.

·         Keep your button alarm handy. In the midst of the pandemic and its ensuing isolation and quarantine, many of us peace of mind that help is available if we need it. A medical alert pendant or bracelet can give you the security of knowing you are never alone. When you know that help is literally the press of a button away, it can alleviate some of the stress that comes with living in the age of COVID.

What Happens if I Get COVID?

Unfortunately, vaccines and even boosters are not 100% foolproof. Though studies have shown that vaccines and boosters greatly lower your risk of contracting severe disease, it’s not a guarantee that you won’t get COVID. Fortunately, those who do get the vaccine and booster are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from a COVID infection.

If you do get COVID, it’s important to immediately alert those who have been in close contact with you, such as family members, friends, and caregivers. If you have underlying conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, you might need to be watched very closely by your medical team. Pay attention to what the symptoms look like for you – some people might have no symptoms at all, others might feel as though they have a bad cold, and still others might wind up feeling as though they have the worst flu they’ve ever dealt with.

It’s expected to feel bad, but if you suddenly take a turn for the worse, it’s time to get in touch with emergency services. As with any emergency or medical event, an emergency medical alert system comes in handy. If you are feeling short of breath, having chest pain, or experiencing any other concerning symptoms, someone can be on the line with you in a matter of seconds. Many find that personal emergency button alarms for the home or on-the-go supply peace of mind in an uncertain time.