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Vaccine Hesitancy Among Older Adults: Disease Concern Not Always Persuasive

AARP COVID-19 and Vaccines Attitude Survey of Midlife and Older Adults

For most midlife and older adults, experiencing the pandemic has brought thoughts about immunizations to the forefront. This study examines attitudes and concerns among adults 40-plus about immunizations in general. The study found that although they say they are concerned about various viruses, many have opted not to be immunized.

Key Findings

  • Half or more older adults say they are concerned about the flu (58%), pneumonia (53%), and shingles (49%).

  • Among those who have been vaccinated for the flu, the majority (68%) say they are still concerned about catching it.

  • Among those who have not been vaccinated for the flu, about half (47%) say they are nevertheless concerned about getting the flu.

  • Of those who have not gotten a flu vaccine, a third (32%) say they wouldn't get vaccinated even if their health care provider recommended it.

  • The majority (60%) of African American older adults say they trust their health care provider when it comes to information about immunizations.

  • Of the African American older adults ages 40-plus who are not currently vaccinated for shingles, two-thirds (66%) say they would get vaccinated if their health care provider recommended it.

  • A sizable number (in some instances over half or more) of Latino midlife and older adults who have not been vaccinated for various viruses say they are not concerned.

  • The most often cited reason given by Latino older adults for not getting vaccinated is a fear of getting sick from the vaccine (36%), followed by a belief that the vaccine isn't needed (28%).

Health care providers remain the most trusted source for information about immunizations for the majority of midlife and older adults. It is imperative that health care providers make the most of this trust to ensure midlife to older adults receive accurate information about immunizations so they are able to make informed decisions about their health.


Alan Newman Market Research Consultants (ANR) conducted a quantitative research study among U.S. adults ages 40-plus. The purpose of this research was to understand their health concerns around COVID and vaccinations. Between October 3 and 12, ANR conducted n=1,546 12-minute online surveys, including oversamples to achieve 400 completes by African American/Black and 400 by Hispanic/Latino adults ages 40-plus. Respondents were offered the option to take the survey in English or Spanish.

This report uses data from the AARP COVID-19 and Vaccines Attitude Survey of Midlife and Older Adults. The companion piece can be found here: “COVID-19 Today: Older Adults Are Less Concerned, Still Taking Precautions."

For more information, please contact Cheryl L. Lampkin at For media inquiries, contact External Relations at

Suggested citation:

Lampkin, Cheryl L. AARP Midlife and Older Adults Vaccine Attitudes. Washington, DC: AARP Research, March 2023.

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