How to Improve Shingles Vaccination Coverage in Older Adults


The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for people aged 60 years or older.

The likelihood of developing shingles triples at age 65 and its repercussions are significantly more serious than in younger adults. For this reason, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the shingles vaccine for people aged 60 years or older since 2006.

A report published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine provides national and state-specific shingles vaccination coverage information, which may help identify strategies to improve vaccination rates among adult populations.

HealthyPeople 2020 set a goal of 30% shingles vaccine coverage by 2020, and in 2013, they reported that only 24% of eligible Americans had been vaccinated. Knowing vaccination rates at national and state levels can help inform health care professionals where the most work is needed.

Compiled by researchers from the CDC, this report used 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data to assess shingles vaccination coverage among adults aged 60 years or older.

The shingles vaccination national coverage rate was 31.8%. While this met the Healthy People 2020's goal of 30%, it is still low.

Coverage among states varied widely. States with the highest coverage rates included Vermont (46.6%), Oregon (44.6%), Washington (44.4%), North Dakota (42.6%), Minnesota (44.2%), Maine (42.1%), South Dakota (41.1%), and Nebraska (41%).

States with the lowest rates included Mississippi (17.8%), New Jersey (22.5%), Louisiana (22.5%), and Alabama (23.7%). Pharmacists in these states must interpret this as an opportunity to improve vaccination rates.

Non-Hispanic whites were significantly more likely to be vaccinated than non-whites across the nation, except in Oregon.

Some of the greatest barriers are financial barriers for both provider and patients. In addition, these researchers noted that pharmacists need to improve awareness of the vaccine and increase provider recommendation. Examining state-level vaccination rates can help pharmacists design tailored intervention programs to identify patients who need to be immunized and reduce barriers to care.


  • Lu PJ, O'Halloran A, Williams WW, Harpaz R. National and State-Specific Shingles Vaccination Among Adults Aged ≥60 Years. Am J Prev Med. 2016; doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.08.031. [Epub ahead of print]
  • HealthyPeople 20202 statistics at;

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