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How To Get The Flu Shot Without Insurance Because Everyone Should Be Protected

Every year experts say that the best way to keep from getting sick from the flu is to get vaccinated, but not everyone has health insurance to cover the vaccine. Does that mean those people just go without preventive care? No way. Everyone should be protected from seasonal viruses, and with that in mind, the flu shot is available if you’re paying for it out-of-pocket. According to LifeHacker, yourlocal pharmacy is the least expensive place to get a flu shot without insurance, with Costco typically coming out the cheapest at $19.99. Don’t worry; you don’t need a Costco membership to get a flu shot there, says LifeHacker. Just tell the door attendant you’re there for the pharmacy, and they’re supposed to just let you in.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has a pretty handy vaccine finder tool that brings up locations near you where you can get a flu shot, among other vaccinations. According to Fortune, the out-of-pocket cost of a flu shot really fluctuates depending on the type of vaccine you get, from $20 at Costco to upwards of $40. If you’re paying out-of-pocket for the flu shot, the best thing to do is to call around to your health department and local pharmacies to see where it’s being offered and for how much.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Other places you can get a flu shot without insurance include:

  • Costco – The seasonal quadrivalent vaccine is $19.99, and WalletHacks says you don’t need to be a Costco member to use their pharmacy.
  • Walmart – Trivalent, quadrivalent, and high-dose strains are available at most locations, and self-pay is accepted.
  • CVS/Target – The seasonal flu shot is $40.99 at CVS. The clinics inside Target are CVS clinics, so flu shots at Target are the same price, only you can sometimes get coupons and discounts at Target when you get your flu shot at the CVS located inside a Target.
  • Walgreens – The seasonal flu shot is $40.99 for the standard dose at Walgreens and $69.99 for the high dose, which is recommended for people ages 65 and older.
  • Your County Health Department – According to LifeHacker, some county health departments offer free flu shot clinics, so check with yours to see if they plan to host one this season.
  • Your Employer – LifeHacker also says some employers offer free flu shots, so even if you’re not on their insurance plan, you might still be able to get a flu shot through them.

According to the CDC, getting the flu shot is the most important step you can take against protecting yourself from the flu, especially since it protects you from three or four of the most common flu virus strains. Even if this season’s vaccine doesn’t quite match up 100 percent with this season’s virus strain, says the CDC, if you get sick, your symptoms will be much less severe than they would’ve been if you hadn’t gotten the flu shot.

It can be really overwhelming to juggle health care costs when you don’t have insurance, but hopefully these give you the options you need to protect yourself this season. Not only are there self-pay options in a range of prices, but there might even be some free options available through your local health department. Either way, everyone should be protected from the flu, every season.

Here’s something everyone can agree on: getting the flu is pretty much the worst. Your best weapon against flu season is to get yourself vaccinated, and while most neighborhood pharmacies offer flu shots, it’s hard to find information on which pharmacies offer the best deals.

Flickr / ph_so_6_Retiree

So I called up some of the biggest pharmacy chains in the country and compiled a list comparing the prices of their flu vaccines.

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that quite a few of the pharmacists I spoke with told me that under most health care plans, the shot is either free or available at a discounted rate. If you have insurance, check with your insurance company or employer to find out how much your plan will cover.

It is also important to note that the prices listed below are for the standard flu vaccine, not the nasal spray or the high-dose shot recommended for people 65 and older, which are both typically more expensive than the standard shot. More information about the different kinds of flu vaccinations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. Make sure to speak with your insurance company and/or the pharmacy providing your flu shot to see which kind of flu vaccine is right for you.

2015’s cheapest flu shot: Sam’s Club and Costco.

The best prices by far are at Sam’s Club and Costco, which charge $15 and $15.27 respectively, and don’t require a membership to get the shot.

2015’s most expensive flu shot: Rite-Aid.

In 2014, the pharmacy chain was tied at $31.99 with Walgreens and CVS for most expensive flu shot around, and this year they’ve raised their price to a whopping $37.99. Target takes second place this year at $34.99 (up from $24.99 last year), and CVS and Walgreens follow close behind at $31.99. It seems the more popular the chain, the more expensive the shot, so while it might be convenient for you to get a flu shot at one of these stores, it’s gonna cost you a lot more than it would elsewhere.

2015 Flu Shot Prices (Lowest to Highest)

$15

  • Sam’s Club (No membership required, and some locations offer price-matching if you can find flu vaccines for any lower in your area.)

$15.27

  • Costco (No membership required.)

$24.99

  • Wegmans

$25.20

  • Walmart

$27.99

  • Kmart
  • Meijer

$29

  • Lunds & Byerlys

$29.99

  • Albertsons
  • Jewel-Osco
  • Raley’s
  • Safeway
  • Shaws

$30

  • Copps
  • Kroger
  • Mariano’s
  • Metro Market
  • Pick’n Save
  • Publix
  • ShopRite

$31.99

  • CVS
  • Schnucks
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Walgreens (For every vaccine purchased, Walgreens gives a vaccine to a child in a developing country.)

$34.99

  • Target

$37.99

  • Rite-Aid

Getting a flu shot is the best way to ensure the health of your family this flu season. If you don’t see your local pharmacy chain on this list, or if you know of a deal better than Sam’s Club’s $15 flu shot, let us know in the comments!

Cover photo: Flickr / Apotek Hjartat

For those without insurance coverage, the cost is still relatively low, typically around $30 or $40 for the standard flu shot at the following locations. Some even offer coupons or a gift card as a reward.

  • Wholesale Clubs: Sam’s Club and Costco both offer the vaccine — no membership required!
  • Drugstores: Stop by your nearest Walgreens, CVS or Rite Aid
  • Supermarkets and chain grocers: Walmart, Target, Kroger, Safeway and Publix (among others) — are another option

Exact prices and availability may vary by location, so call ahead or check online for details. If you want to avoid a retailer, your employer or state or county health department may also offer the vaccine on a limited basis. Federally funded health centers may provide vaccines on a sliding scale based on income, according to the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which provides an online map to find a location near you.

You may also use the Flu Vaccine Finder provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find a flu shot provider — including those offering specific types of the vaccine — near you.

Walgreens kicks off flu shot availability for 2019 season

Walgreens is ready to help consumers avoid getting the flu. Walgreens now has flu shots available in all of its pharmacies and Healthcare Clinics, including Duane Reade pharmacies and Walgreens-owned Rite Aid pharmacies. Walgreens offers free flu shots with most insurance. Flu shots are available during pharmacy and clinic hours, seven days a week—no appointment necessary.
Walgreens also is kicking off its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” for its seventh season.
On Sept. 1, Walgreens and the United Nations Foundation will be kicking off the “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. For every flu shot or other vaccine administered at a Walgreens pharmacy or Healthcare Clinic, Walgreens will donate the value of a life-saving vaccine to a child in need.
From Sept. 1 through Jan. 31, 2020, Walgreens will donate to UNF 23 cents per shot for each immunization a patient receives from a Walgreens pharmacy or from Healthcare Clinic locations managed by Take Care Health Systems in the United States, up to an aggregate maximum donation value of $2.6 million.

Do you know that 1 in 6 people will get the flu? And that even healthy people are not spared from this illness? In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone at least six months old get immunized against flu every year. You can get immunized against flu at Walgreens, and you’ll be surprised to learn that Walgreens flu shot cost is covered by most insurance plans.

Below is the latest Walgreens flu shot cost:

Disclaimer: PriceListo gathers actual pricing information from sources such as on-site visits, business websites, and phone interviews. The prices reported on this webpage derive from one or more of those sources. Naturally, the prices reported on this website may not be current, and may not apply to all locations of a given business brand. To obtain current pricing, contact the individual business location of interest to you.

Walgreens Flu Shot prices provided by PriceListo.

Walgreens History

Walgreens is considered by many as the premier pharmacy chain in the United States. It is more than 100 years old, having been founded in 1901. It started out as a neighborhood drugstore which became one of the most respected corporations in the country.

The company was founded by Charles Walgreen, Jr. in Chicago. Before that, Walgreen was employed with some of the top pharmacists in the city. During that time, the competition among drugstores was already stiff with more than 1,500 businesses serving the city.

Working from 1893 to 1901, Walgreen was able to save enough money to start his own pharmacy. He bought the drug store where he was working, one that was owned by businessman Isaac Blood for a then-princely sum of $6,000. It took years for Walgreen to settle the loan he used to purchase the store, but it was a gamble that paid off eventually.

Prices of drugs were kept at reasonable levels, and coupled with Walgreen’s experience in customer service, the pharmacy would soon be flocked by countless clients. A pharmacist himself, Walgreen mixed and packaged his own drugs to keep prices affordable.

By 1925, the pharmacy chain had grown to more than 60 stores, expanding to nearby Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. The company then went public two years later. Even during the time of the Great Depression, Walgreen had succeeded in opening more than 500 outlets spread from New York to Florida.

In 1939, Walgreen died and his son Charles, Jr took over the reins.

Walgreens Growth and Development

The death of its founder did not stop the company from further expanding. It opened a superstore in the heart of the city in 1940, and featured a high-speed escalator, the first ever drugstore in the world to have such amenity.

After World War II, the company acquired a major stake in Sanborns, a Mexican retail and restaurant firm. More Walgreens super stores opened shop later in the decade. In 1948, Walgreen started advertising on television.

In the 1950s, Walgreens tried introducing stores with self-service style. In 1952, it opened the first self-service store on South Side in Chicago. Self-service stores offered cheaper prices, and the public soon flocked to these stores. Sales grew to more than $300 million in the said decade thanks to more self-service stores opened by Walgreens.

In the following decades, the company had grown so much that it diversified by going into other businesses like restaurants and cosmetics.

In the 80s, it returned to its roots by concentrating on the pharmacy business and eliminating other ventures. It opened its 1000th store in Chicago in 1984 and then divested its stake in Sanborns.

By the turn of the 2000s, the company was very much focused in the pharmacy business, growing the number of outlets to more than 3,000 and being fueled by the aging U.S. population and prescription growth.

Walgreens Flu Shot Information

With more than 8,000 stores located in all 50 states of the country, there should be a Walgreens outlet near you where you can get a Walgreens flu shot. The easiest way to locate a Walgreens outlet where you can get immunized against flu is to go to the company’s website, www.walgreens.com. Or go here.

Type in the ZIP code on the store locator field. The browser will then show a list of Walgreens stores near your area. Each store will have pertinent information such as the services it offers. Find out if the branch near you offers flu immunization by looking for influenza in the immunizations list at the services section.

If the store near you offers flu immunization, you can schedule an appointment. Find the Schedule an Appointment on the site. Choose flu shot in the reason for visit tab, then select the date you prefer, and enter your personal information as well as payment information.

The company also accepts most insurance plans. You won’t need to worry about Walgreens flu shot prices since you won’t have to pay for it if you have Medicare Part B.

Walgreens flu shots can keep you away from the dreaded influenza this year. Keep in mind that even there is no such thing as a healthy individual when it comes to the flu, and just about everyone can get afflicted with it. Don’t take that risk, have yourself immunized as soon as possible.

Where Can You Get Free Flu Shots?

Once autumn rolls around, flu season isn’t too far behind. October officially kicks off flu season, and the sooner you get vaccinated, the better, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Granted, it’s not exactly the most thrilling fall activity, but look on the bright side: Unlike pumpkins and apples, you can get the flu shot for free.

Flu season typically lasts from October through March and sometimes trickles into early April, says Niket Sonpal, M.D., an internist and gastroenterologist based in New York City. However, the 2018-2019 flu season lasted through May, catching many health experts off-guard, he adds. “Flu activity tends to peak between December and February but can last as late as May,” explains Dr. Sonpal, though the CDC recommends that people get vaccinated by late October.

Of course, you can still get vaccinated later on in the season—but with free flu shots at your disposal, why wait?

Where can you get free flu shots?

Free flu shots are easier to find than you might think. If you’re a college student, most colleges offer free flu shots on-campus, while many employers offer free flu shots to their staff, says Dr. Sonpal. (Related: Are There Any Flu Shot Side Effects You Should Watch Out For?)

Free flu shots are also available at your local pharmacies and some grocery stores. CVS and MinuteClinic locations in Target, for example, offer free flu shots every day at no cost through most health insurance policies and with no appointment necessary, according to a CVS representative. (You’ll even get a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase when you get the flu shot in most states, according to the rep. Score!)

Walgreens offers free flu shots through most health insurance policies, as well. You can get vaccinated during pharmacy and clinic hours every day without an appointment. The pharmacy is also currently running its “Get A Shot. Give A Shot” campaign: For every shot administered at a Walgreens pharmacy or health-care clinic between now and January 31, 2020, Walgreens will donate a vaccine to a child in need, “up to an aggregate donation value of $2.6 million,” says Rina Shah, pharmacy operations group vice president of Walgreens. (Related: Can You Get the Flu Twice In One Season?)

Wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco offer free flu vaccinations, too—and you don’t even have to be a member to get one, adds Dr. Sonpal. Military veterans enrolled in healthcare through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can also receive a free vaccination at Veterans Affairs health-care facilities. (Note: The program does not apply to family members, says Dr. Sonpal.)

Lastly, if you’re insured through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part B, and/or most other insurance plans, the flu shot might be free through your primary care provider, Tori Marsh, M.P.H. writes in a blog post for GoodRx. However, every doctor is different, and you might still have to pay a fee for the visit. Be sure to check your health insurance policy before making an appointment.

  • By Julia Guerra

You vs. Flu: Flu Shots Available Now at All CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic Locations to Help You Win Against the Flu

– Flu vaccinations given every day by CVS pharmacists and MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants with no appointment necessary –
– Direct medical billing available and many insurance plans accepted, including Medicare Part B and TRICARE –
– $5 CVS gift card provided if flu shot is not covered by insurance –
– Fluzone® High-Dose available for patients age 65 and over –

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Aug. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ —

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic announced their “You vs. Flu” campaign today. Flu vaccinations are now available at all CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations nationwide to help consumers win against the flu. CVS/pharmacy has more than 7,200 locations and MinuteClinic has nearly 600 locations inside select CVS/pharmacy stores.

Flu shots are being provided by CVS pharmacists and MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants every day, including evenings and weekends, with no appointment necessary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages six months and older get a flu shot as soon as vaccine is available, including those who were vaccinated last flu season.

In addition to 7,800 combined retail locations, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are making flu shots more accessible this year by providing direct medical billing for many national and regional health plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.

A flu shot at CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic costs $29.99. Many health plans are accepted, including Medicare Part B and TRICARE, which may cover the full cost of a flu shot.* Customers will receive a $5 CVS gift card if any part of their cost of a flu shot is not covered by insurance.**

“The CDC reports that nearly 1 in 5 adults received a flu shot in a retail setting last flu season, so our goal is to make our pharmacies and retail health clinics more convenient and accessible than ever to receive a flu shot,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark. “Our ‘You vs. Flu’ campaign is supported by more than 20,000 immunizing health care professionals who will vaccinate patients every day, no appointment needed.”

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are also offering the Fluzone® High-Dose vaccine this season, which is available at all locations for people ages 65 and over. This higher dose vaccine is designed to provide better protection from influenza to this age group, which has a greater risk for developing a severe illness from the flu.

Each year, influenza causes between 3,600 to 49,000 deaths in the United States, and more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for flu-related complications annually. This season’s vaccine is designed to protect against three influenza viruses, including an influenza B virus and two influenza A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2.

“A flu shot can reduce the chance of becoming infected by influenza by up to 70%. Because it takes about two weeks to achieve full immunization after being vaccinated, a flu shot is recommended as soon as vaccine is available,” said Paulette Thabault, ANP-BC, MS, Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer, MinuteClinic. “Even if you received a flu shot last year, immunity from influenza declines over time, so a flu shot is still necessary to provide you with the best protection against catching the flu.”

MinuteClinic flu shots are administered in a private exam room and CVS/pharmacy flu shots are conducted behind a privacy screen in the pharmacy area. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can vaccinate patients who are 18 months or older except in Massachusetts, where the minimum age is 24 months. The minimum age for vaccination by a pharmacist varies by state. Check with your local CVS/pharmacy or visit www.cvs.com/flu to determine minimum vaccination age by state.

“CVS pharmacists and MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants are always available to speak to patients about ways to stay healthy this flu season, including providing advice on over-the-counter remedies available at CVS/pharmacy to treat cold and flu symptoms,” said Papatya Tankut, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Services, CVS/pharmacy. “Receiving a flu shot and preventing the spread of germs by frequently washing your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based cleanser, covering your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, avoiding contact with people who have the flu, and staying home from work or school if you do have the flu are all easy ways to help keep you and your loved ones healthy during flu season.”

CVS.com/flu also provides consumers with information about flu vaccinations and health tips for preventing the flu, as well as an option to schedule a CVS/pharmacy flu shot appointment at a time and location that is convenient for them.

For more information, visit www.cvs.com/flu, www.minuteclinic.com/flu, or call 1-888-FLU-SHOT.

*TRICARE accepted at CVS/pharmacy only

** Excludes MA, NJ & NY

About CVS/pharmacy

CVS/pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE: CVS), is America’s leading retail pharmacy with more than 7,200 CVS/pharmacy and Longs Drug stores. CVS/pharmacy is committed to improving the lives of those we serve by making innovative and high-quality health and pharmacy services safe, affordable and easy to access, both in its stores and online at CVS.com. General information about CVS/pharmacy and CVS Caremark is available at http://info.cvscaremark.com/.

About MinuteClinic

MinuteClinic is a division of CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE: CVS), the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States. MinuteClinic launched the first retail health care centers in the United States in 2000 and is the first provider to establish a national presence, with nearly 600 locations in 26 states and the District of Columbia. By creating a health care delivery model that responds to consumer demand, MinuteClinic makes access to high-quality medical treatment easier for more Americans. Nationally, the company has generated more than 10 million patient visits, with a 95% customer satisfaction rating. MinuteClinic consistently brings innovation to the marketplace and sets new standards for clinical quality that exceed national guidelines. MinuteClinic is the first retail health care provider to receive accreditation (2006) and reaccreditation (2009) from The Joint Commission, the national evaluation and certifying agency for nearly 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. For more information, visit http://www.minuteclinic.com/.

SOURCE CVS/pharmacy

Are flu shots at the pharmacy as safe as at the doctor’s office?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — If you need a flu shot, does it matter where you go to get it? Recently I was walking through a store and a customer asked me, “Michael, Is it safe to get a flu shot here”? I said, “I’ll find out.”
We don’t always get our flu shots in a doctor’s office anymore. CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies are giving out millions of flu shots each year, but should they? And should you get one at the pharmacy rather than at your doctor’s office?

Recently I was talking with Lisa Kroon, professor and department chair of Clinical Pharmacy at UCSF. I told her about the customer’s question, and asked if that a good question in the first place.
“It is a great question,” she answered. “And it is absolutely safe. I would absolutely encourage anyone considering or needing a flu shot to go to their local pharmacy.”
She went on to say all of her students are trained to do the job and she assures me the flu shots themselves are identical. I heard the same when checking in with other MDs.
Over at CVS Pharmacy, I am further assured about their training.
Eleanor Wong works there and told me CVS makes sure its training is top notch and ongoing.
“They have all gone through what we call a CDC-approved immunization course in order to immunize,” she tells me. “As well as a refreshment course they do annually.”
We know pharmacists are medication experts, but now they are so much more. This isn’t just a pharmacy: this is a medical center with pharmacists giving a variety of inoculations and keeping track of who should get what.
And that’s how I ended up here in this Walgreen’s chair waiting for my flu shot. In TV we call this “reporter involvement,” but I want you to think of it as me being your guinea pig.
To get the shot, it takes about five minutes to fill out the form and mere seconds to get the flu shot. It did not bleed, I did not get any symptoms and that shot was more than a week ago.
My doctors are busy and their time can be better used than giving me single flu shot. It works for me too, because I am cutting out the middle man. The cost of getting my shot at Walgreen’s was around $40 and my insurance company paid for the whole thing. There was no co-pay for being in a doctor’s office. There is a good chance your insurance company will pick up the tab, too.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Seasonal Flu

* According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

† If you have specific allergies or medication conditions, the flu shot may still be right for you. Ask your pharmacist for details.

1 Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply.

2 This wellness benefit is only for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. Family members and Tricare members are not eligible. No-cost flu shot option is for quadrivalent vaccine only, available now through March 31, 2020. Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply. Vaccine may be in limited supply after March 1, 2020. This does not constitute an endorsement of Walgreens or Walgreens products. Patients will also be asked to complete a vaccine consent form at time of service.

3 Patient care services provided by Take Care Health Services, an independently owned professional corporation whose licensed healthcare professionals are not employed by or agents of Walgreen Co. or its subsidiaries, including Take Care Health Systems, LLC.

By getting a flu shot, you help protect yourself from the flu and are less likely to spread the virus to those around you.

Flu season is officially underway, which means it’s time to get vaccinated. Flu shots can range from $0 (yes, free) to $50 or more, depending on where you get your shot and what kind of vaccine you receive. Whether you’re insured or not, there are ways to make your vaccines affordable.

Here are some things to know to make sure you don’t overpay.

Some pharmacies offer discounted or free flu shots

If you have insurance, flu shots at most pharmacies are free. Many pharmacies have programs offering discounted flu shots, in addition to in-store discounts. Without insurance, you’ll pay more out of pocket.

If you don’t have insurance, here’s how much you’ll pay for quadrivalent and senior-dose flu vaccines (the most-commonly-prescribed flu vaccines) at some popular pharmacies.

Pharmacy Discounted vaccine price In-store savings
Costco (no membership needed) Quadrivalent: $19.99
CVS

Quadrivalent: $39.99

Senior dose: $66.99, or $54.92 with a GoodRx coupon

Get a “$5 off $25” coupon when you get your flu shot
Walmart Quadrivalent: $34.99
Walgreens

Quadrivalent: $40.99

Senior dose: $69.99

Kroger Quadrivalent: $40
Rite Aid Quadrivalent: $40
Sam’s Club (no membership needed) Quadrivalent: $30
Safeway Quadrivalent: $38.99 Save 10% on groceries when you get your flu shot
Southeastern Grocers

Quadrivalent: $24 with a GoodRx coupon

Senior dose: $55 with a GoodRx coupon

The shot may be free through your primary care provider

If you are insured through the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part B or most other insurance plans, you should be able to get your flu shot for free at your doctor’s office. However, before you go, remember that you may still have to pay for the office visit. Also, be sure to check with the office first to see if they have current flu vaccinations available for this year’s flu season.

Visit vaccinefinder.org to see locations in your area that offer the flu shot

Vaccinefinder.org is a great tool for finding out where you can get vaccines. The finder allows you to search for locations near you that have the flu shot available. Keep in mind that while the tool can be helpful, its search results aren’t all-inclusive. Try calling your location of choice if it’s not listed in the search results—you may still be able to get your flu shot there.

Don’t miss out on savings! Get the best ways to save on your prescriptions delivered to your inbox. By signing up, I agree to GoodRx’s terms of service and privacy policy.

You can get free shots through clinics, community organizations, and public health departments

Many health departments and free clinics offer low-cost or free flu shots across the U.S. Here are a few examples:

  • Most colleges offer free flu shots for their students. Check on your school’s website to confirm.
  • Many employers offer free flu shots for their staff. If you are employed, keep an eye out for an announcement from your Human Resources department.
  • Military veterans enrolled in health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can get a flu shot at their nearest VA health care facility. This program does not apply to family members of veterans.
  • Many county health departments offer free flu vaccinations during flu season. Examples include:
    • The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in partnership with select LA County Libraries, will offer free flu shots through November.
    • The City of Berkeley offers free flu shots for those 3 years of age and older at the Berkeley Public Health Clinic.
    • The Shawnee County Health Department in Topeka, Kansas offers free shots for those 19 years of age and older.
    • The Hawaii Health Department will offer free flu shots to children in public schools throughout the state.

Can’t find a location near you on this list? Watch for announcements on your local news station or in your local newspaper—or search online for free flu shots in your area.

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  • The Simple Way to Get a Flu Shot for Free

    When you think of the flu, the cost of getting sick probably isn’t the first thing that jumps to mind. But coming down with the virus can prove pricey.

    A visit to the doctor’s office can run $80 to $100—or more. If you need to head to the ER on a night or weekend for care, the tab can easily total $500. With the average health plan deductible rising, you could owe the whole bill, or at least a decent share. In extreme cases, if you land in the hospital the cost (before insurance) can be $2,000 a day. And the average stay for the flu is about four days.

    As a parent, you also need to think about time away from work if your child gets sick. A 2012 study found that when children under the age of 5 came down with the flu parents missed an average of seven work hours if the child was treated in an outpatient setting, 19 hours if the child went to the ER, and 73 hours if the child was hospitalized.

    The good news is that you probably don’t have to pay a penny for the best defense against the flu. Under Obamacare, a flu shot is free as long as you have health insurance (though plans that were in place before the law passed in 2010, known as grandfathered policies, are exempt). It’s one of the preventive services that insurers must fully cover without charging you a co-pay or co-insurance—even if you haven’t met your annual deductible yet. Under Medicare, you also pay nothing.

    Still, even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone older than six months get the vaccine annually, many skip it. Vaccination rates top 70% for children ages six months to four years and are almost as high for those 65 and older, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. But 18-to-64-year-olds lag, with fewer than 40% rolling up their sleeves last year.

    Where to go for the vaccine

    Your vaccine should be free as long as you choose a provider that’s in your plan’s network. That could mean making an appointment with your doctor, or walking into a drug store, urgent care clinic, or big-box retailer near you. Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, and Kroger all dole out the vaccine, though make sure the branch near you offers the service (not all do). You can use this Flu Shot Near Me tool to look up flu shot providers near you.

    Without insurance or outside your insurance network, you’ll probably pay the list price. At Walgreens, the flut shot costs $30 to $55, depending on the form of vaccine. Although a shot in the arm is the most common, you have options, including a nasal spray.

    This week Sam’s Club announced it will match any competitor’s price at its in-store pharmacies. Other stores are running flu shot promotions to get you in the door, offering discounts on whatever else you buy on your visit. One caveat: Not every state allows stores to vaccinate children, so call ahead.

    Your employer may also offer flu shots in its medical center or conference room, letting you get in and out in five minutes. Some schools provide free shots for students. (In a few states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, it is mandatory that children in licensed day care centers and preschools be vaccinated.) Many community health centers also offer the vaccine.

    No matter where you go, don’t worry about missing out: The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases reports a “plentiful” supply this year. But don’t wait until the last minute. It takes about two weeks for the protection to kick in.

    Flu (Influenza) Vaccine

    What is the flu (influenza)?

    Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

    Some people, such as people over age 65, young children, and those with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year with a flu shot.

    What is the flu shot?

    The “flu shot” is a vaccine that protects you from the flu virus. It is inactivated, which means it contains a killed version of the virus which cannot cause disease, and is most commonly given as an injection (with a needle) in the arm.

    This season’s vaccine protects against three or four influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and 1 or 2 influenza B viruses.

    The vaccine takes effect approximately two weeks after it has been administered as antibodies (substances in the blood that protect against infection) accumulate and provide protection against influenza. Therefore, it is important to get a flu vaccine before the flu begins to circulate in your area as you may be susceptible to influenza during the two weeks after your flu shot.

    The flu shot will not eliminate the risk of getting the flu 100% as there are several strains of viruses that can cause the flu. However, data suggests flu symptoms may be milder and complications can be reduced following vaccination. It can also protect others who are vulnerable but may not be able to receive the vaccine for a variety of reasons.

    Is there a Flu Vaccine for age 65+?

    Seniors ages 65 and older have a higher risk for developing complications from the flu and account for more than 60% of the flu-related hospitalizations each year. Recent studies show that people ages 65+ may not respond as well to standard-dose flu shots because they do not produce as high of an antibody response following vaccination as do younger people. People with low antibody levels may be at higher risk of catching the flu.

    There are vaccines, such as Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD, designed specifically for patients ages 65+ and works by improving the production of antibodies in order to provide a stronger immune response to the flu than traditional vaccines. Like the standard flu shot, these vaccines are given as an injection in the arm and the side effects are similar, though some patients may experience increased pain, redness, or swelling around the injection site compared to standard dose flu vaccines.

    Who should get a flu shot?

    The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months and older* get a flu shot every flu season, including healthy people, and people with chronic conditions. In general, it is recommended that anyone who wants to reduce his or her chances of getting the flu should be vaccinated. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated, including:

    • People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes:
      • People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic heart or lung disease
      • Pregnant women
      • People 65 years and older
      • People who live with or care for others who are at high risk for developing serious complications. This includes household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

    Who should not get a flu shot?

    The flu vaccine should not be given to:

    • Children younger than 6 months of age
    • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.

    Certain individuals should not be vaccinated without first consulting a healthcare professional. These patients include:

    • Those who have an allergy to eggs or any of the ingredients in the vaccine
    • Those who had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS) within six weeks of getting the flu vaccine previously
    • Those who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait until they recover before getting a flu shot

    What are the common side effects of the flu shot?

    The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:

    • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
    • Fever (low grade)
    • Aches

    If these side effects occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Over the counter products may be recommended to manage minor side effects. Most people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.

    When is the best time to get a flu shot?

    The CDC recommends that people get the flu shot as soon as vaccine becomes available and before the flu is widespread. The peak season is typically October to March in the U.S. but can start earlier or end later. As long as the virus is circulating, the flu shot should be received. A persons should get their flu shot every flu season to ensure the best protection from the flu.

    *The flu shot is seasonally available at Walgreens Pharmacy. Ages vary by state.*

    Alert

    If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.

    Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines for more vaccine information.

    Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2015.

    This publication should be used for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this publication.

    *Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply.

    The Flu Shot: What You Need to Know

    What is the flu?

    Influenza (the flu) is a respiratory illness, which means that it affects your airways.1,2 It is spread easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and even talking. When you get the influenza virus it sometimes takes one to four days before you start noticing symptoms. This means that you could spread the flu to those around you before you even know that you’re sick. Adults are able to spread the flu for up to seven days after first becoming sick, and children can continue to spread the flu for even longer.

    Is the flu dangerous?

    The symptoms of the flu could range from mild to severe.2 If you get the flu, you may experience a sudden fever, cough, aches, and fatigue. People who are 65 years or older, those with certain health conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes), pregnant women, and young children are considered high risk and are especially vulnerable to the flu and its complications. Every year, thousands of people die in the United States due to the flu and even more are hospitalized.3,4

    The flu can have a big economic impact as well.3-5 The direct costs of the flu (such as hospital stays, doctor’s office visits, and medications) are an estimated $4.6 billion annually.5 Approximately 17 million workdays are missed every year due to the flu, which costs an estimated $7 billion.

    How do I protect my family and myself from the flu?

    Getting a flu shot each year is the best way to protect against the flu.4 The CDC recommends that, unless otherwise told by your healthcare provider, everyone who is 6 months of age or older should get the flu vaccine every year.

    How does the flu vaccine work?

    There are several different kinds of flu vaccines available today. The flu shot is either made with “inactivated” viruses or no virus at all. The vaccines that do not contain the virus are called “recombinant” vaccines and only contain certain proteins found in the influenza virus known as subunits.4,6 The nasal flu vaccine is made with live viruses that have been rendered too weak to cause any illness. This type of vaccine is called a “live-attenuated” vaccine.

    Regardless of which type of vaccine you get, it trains your body to create antibodies that protect you from the flu by attacking the virus.

    How effective is the flu shot?

    The vaccine formulation changes every year to try to “match” the influenza viruses that are spreading in our communities.4,7 The vaccine is more effective when it has a good match. Even if a flu shot was not well-matched, it is still beneficial to get vaccinated. If you do get the flu after having received the vaccine, it’s possible that it may be less severe than if you had not gotten vaccinated. Getting vaccinated also helps to protect your community by promoting herd immunity.7,8

    How well the vaccine works varies from year to year.4,7 Overall, receiving the flu vaccine usually reduces the risk of getting the flu by between 40% and 60% among most people when the vaccine is well-matched with the isolated virus. Some people respond better than others to the flu vaccine and build stronger immunity. People that are older than 65 years typically build weaker immune responses to the influenza vaccine.7 That’s why there are special flu vaccines made especially for seniors.

    What is herd immunity?

    Another term for herd immunity is “community immunity.”8 When enough people in a community are vaccinated and immunized against a particular virus, the virus won’t be able to spread. Some people can’t get vaccines and some people get vaccines but don’t have strong immune responses. These people are especially vulnerable and rely on herd immunity to stay safe.

    Every time you get vaccinated you are protecting yourself, your family, and your community.

    When should I get the flu shot?

    The flu season varies from year to year, but it has been known to start as early as October, peak in the winter months between December and February, and then may continue as late as May.4 It’s recommended to get the flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine becomes available in order to be protected before the start of the flu season, It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to build up the antibodies against the flu. It’s better late than never, though. Even if you don’t get the flu vaccine until January or later, you can still benefit from it.

    It’s important to get the flu vaccine every year because both you and the flu virus change.4 The antibodies that you create to build immunity to the flu will decrease with time, so you need a new vaccine to renew your supply of antibodies. The flu viruses are also constantly changing, which is why there is a new formulation every year.

    Where can I get a flu shot?

    There are more places than ever to get your flu vaccination. Doctor’s office, clinics, and health departments offer the flu shot but you may need to make an appointment in advance.

    Pharmacies have become an easy and convenient option to get your flu shot. At Walgreens, we offer flu shots whenever a pharmacist is on duty. Walk-ins are welcome but if you’d prefer, you can make an appointment online. Find a location near you to ask about vaccine availability or schedule an appointment online.

    I’ve heard there are different flu vaccines available. Which one is right for me?

    There are several different flu vaccines to choose from, and your pharmacist or other healthcare provider would be happy to talk with you to help you find the right vaccines for you. The CDC recommends that all persons ages 6 months and older receive the flu shot. The CDC does not have a recommendation for one flu vaccine over another; the most important thing is that you get a flu vaccine every year.4,6

    The flu vaccine can be split into two categories: trivalent or quadrivalent. The trivalent flu vaccines have two strains of the Influenza A virus (H1N1 and H3N2) and one strain of the Influenza B virus. The quadrivalent flu vaccines protect against the same three strains, but also have an additional B virus.4

    The flu shots are injections that are administered into your upper arm. The flu shots do not contain a live virus and are either inactivated or recombinant (contain no influenza virus at all).

    There is also a nasal spray. The nasal spray contains live-attenuated (weakened) influenza virus and is quadrivalent.4 The nasal spray flu vaccine may be an option for healthy persons between the ages of 2 and 49.6

    Persons who are 65 years and older have additional choices. Older adults have the option of receiving either a high dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine. These flu shots are specifically formulated for seniors and in past studies they have demonstrated better protection against the flu in persons ages 65 and older.4,6,9

    What do seniors (65 years and older) need to know about the flu vaccine?

    Compared to younger adults, people who are 65 years and older have a greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu.9 It has been estimated that in recent years seniors have accounted for up to 70% of seasonal-flu related hospitalizations and up to 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths. Also alarming is that seniors typically develop weaker immune responses to the flu vaccine. That’s why there are special flu vaccines available specifically designed for seniors: the high dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine.

    Compared to a regular flu shot, the high dose vaccine has four times the amount of antigen.9 The adjuvanted flu vaccine contains an extra substance called an adjuvant that helps the vaccine work better by giving you a stronger immune response. Both the high dose vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine have demonstrated stronger immune responses in persons 65 years and older as compared to seniors who received the standard flu shot.

    Can I get the flu shot if I’m pregnant?

    Yes, a flu shot during pregnancy is recommended. In fact, it is recommended that all women who are pregnant or may become pregnant during the flu season receive a flu shot during any trimester.4,6 A flu shot protects both the mother and the baby from getting the flu, since the mother can pass some of the antibodies onto the baby. Any of the age-appropriate flu shots may be used. It is important that pregnant women only receive a flu shot; the nasal flu vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy.

    What are the flu vaccine side effects?

    Common flu shot reactions include redness, soreness, or swelling in the area where the shot was administered.4 The nasal spray could cause different side effects, such as runny nose, sore throat, or a cough. These side effects are usually mild and short-lived.

    Some people may also develop a low-grade fever or body aches. Similar to the other side effects, these symptoms are usually mild and quickly go away on their own. While some of these side effects may feel flu-like, it’s important to remember that the flu shot will not make you sick with the flu.

    Allergic reactions to the flu shot are rare.4

    Can you get the flu from the flu shot?

    No, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot.4

    The flu shot is either recombinant (does not contain the influenza virus) or it contains an inactivated virus.4,6 The nasal flu vaccine is made with live viruses but the virus is “attenuated,” meaning it has been made too weak to cause any illness. Regardless of which type of vaccine you get, it trains your body to create antibodies that protect you from the flu by attacking the virus but it does not get you sick.

    While some people may experience a low-grade fever or body aches as a side effect, that does not mean the vaccine gave them the flu.4 For example, if you got sick with the flu shortly after receiving a flu vaccine, it means you were exposed to the flu before your body had the chance to fully develop the antibodies needed. It takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine before you’re protected against the influenza virus.

    Who should not get the flu vaccine?

    If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any influenza vaccine you should not get another the flu vaccine again, even if it’s a different formulation.6,10

    If you have experienced the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome that causes paralysis within six weeks following a previous dose of the influenza vaccine, you should talk with your doctor before getting the flu vaccine.6,10,11

    It’s a good idea to be sure you’re feeling well before getting the flu vaccine. If you are experiencing a moderate to severe illness (with or without a fever) it may be beneficial to wait to receive the flu vaccine until you are feeling better.6,10 For example, if you have the flu and you feel bad enough to miss work, then you should wait until you’ve improved, but if you only have a mild cold, you could still get the flu vaccine.

    If you are interested in the influenza vaccine nasal spray, there are a few more things to know. Because it contains a live virus, you should not get the influenza nasal spray if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system or are in close contact with persons who have a weakened immune system (such as those receiving chemotherapy), or have taken an influenza antiviral medication within the last 48 hours.6

    Children and adolescents who receive aspirin or salicylate-containing medication should not receive the influenza nasal spray, nor should young children (between the ages of 2 and 4) who have experienced an episode of wheezing or who have been diagnosed with asthma. People with chronic health conditions such as COPD or diabetes should talk with their doctor before receiving the influenza nasal spray.

    What if I have an egg allergy?

    People that have experienced mild allergic reactions or hives because of eggs can receive any influenza vaccine.4,6,10 If eggs have given you serious allergic reactions, such as trouble breathing, you can still receive any of the available influenza vaccines but you should receive it in a doctor’s office. Your doctor may recommend that you receive the egg-free influenza vaccine.

    Is there mercury in the flu shot?

    Vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose contain thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative.12 These multi-dose vials have a preservative because every time a needle enters the vial there is a risk of introducing bacteria or fungi, which could be dangerous. Thimerosal protects the vaccines from contamination. Our bodies remove thimerosal quickly and easily, so it does not stay or build up in our system. Most pre-filled syringes and nasal spray formulations of the flu vaccine do not contain thimerosal.

    I need to get my pneumonia shot this year. Which one should I get first, the pneumonia shot or the flu shot?

    Actually, you can receive both vaccines at the same time. The flu shot can be given at the same time with as any other vaccine you may need.

    What are other ways I can protect against the flu?

    In addition to your yearly flu vaccine, there are a few other things you can do to protect your family and you from the flu. There are daily precautions you can take such as limiting contact with sick people as much as possible and washing your hands with soap and water often.13 If you have received a prescription for flu antiviral medications, it’s important to take them as directed by your doctor.

    But remember, the number one way to protect you and your family against the flu virus is to get vaccinated every year.

    Published on September 19, 2018

    Sources:

    6. Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)–United States, 2017-18 Summary of Recommendations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published January 26, 2018.

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