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Spike in RSV Shots is Leading Seniors to Seek Regular Healthcare

— February 8, 2024

The wide availability of the RSV vaccine is causing more elderly people to get regular check-ups.

Sometimes, just getting someone to visit the doctor for the first time in a long time is a win for public health. That’s true for people of all ages, but it is particularly true for seniors who may have stopped going to the doctor a long time ago. If there is a way to get those people to make an appointment and come back in for care, everyone wins. That’s what is happening thanks to the availability of the RSV vaccine. Some seniors who haven’t been getting regular healthcare are making appointments to get their RSV shots, and while they are in the office, they can be evaluated, and other issues may be uncovered that can be treated. Despite the overall rate of RSV vaccination being rather low, there are still plenty of seniors who have received healthcare that would not have been seen by a doctor otherwise.

An indication that seniors are getting more healthcare came from a somewhat unlikely source in the form of an earnings report that was delivered by UnitedHealth Group. Within that report, it was seen that seniors were using more health services than previously. While that is good news for overall public health, it’s not such good news for insurance companies, as more services being used means that profits will dip. So, the report caused some stocks to fall, but for those who are more worried about public health than Wall Street, the news was seen as a positive.

It is, of course, difficult to pull out precisely why seniors are seeing their doctors more regularly. There is some indication that it is connected to people wanting to get vaccinated for RSV, while there are also lingering concerns about COVID that have driven seniors to their doctors, in addition to outpatient care services.

Spike in RSV Shots is Leading Seniors to Seek Regular Healthcare
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

This was mentioned above, but it should be highlighted again that seniors as a whole are not getting the RSV shots at a particularly high level. In fact, only around 20% of all people who are over 60 have gotten the shot to this point. This number closely mirrors the percentage of people who have gotten the current version of the COVID vaccine, although that shot is available to all individuals 18+ (not counting the shot that is designated for children). Both of those vaccines lag way behind the flu shot, which is taken up by nearly 50% of people over 18.

Just getting the RSV vaccine alone would be a health win on the individual level and for society as a whole. But that’s not all that happens when seniors make appointments to come in and get their shot. This is also a way for some of them to come back into the healthcare fold and get attention for various other issues they may be facing. This speaks to the added value of vaccination and why it is such an important part of maintaining high public health standards.


“Good news for health care”: RSV shots are driving seniors back to checkups

Healthcare Providers: RSV Vaccination for Adults 60 Years of Age and Over

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