Flu season is officially here, which means it’s time to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 pandemic makes the need for a flu shot even more critical. Besides practicing good hygiene, a shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu. A vaccination can cost between $20 to $50, but there are ways to get cheap, or even free, flu shots.
Although spread has been low in recent years, experts do expect it to increase throughout the fall and winter seasons this year, according to the CDC. If you want to protect yourself this year, our guide shares a few options to save money.
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Where to Get Cheap Flu Shots
Getting a flu shot is relatively simple to do. Here are a few of the top choices to get them for free or cheap.
Your employer is often the best way to get a free flu shot. They may even allow you to receive your shot during normal work hours. This means you don’t have to sacrifice time to protect your health.
Some employers also provide the option to bring in your family so they can receive their shots, too.
If you’re not sure, ask the human resources department if your employer will make vaccines available. If not, they may have an agreement with a local provider to get cheap flu shots so make sure you ask that, too.
If you have health insurance through an employer, the healthcare marketplace, or Medicaid or Medicare, you may qualify for a flu shot at your primary doctor for free or for the price of your co-pay.
To learn if you qualify, call your health insurance company and ask if your policy covers flu shots.
If you’re a Medicaid recipient, you may qualify for free flu shots. However, it varies by state. Make sure you read your health coverage and call to ask questions if you’re unclear.
You can also ask your primary physician to see if they offer free shots to Medicaid recipients.
If you’re a Medicare recipient and you have Medicare Part B, you automatically qualify every year.
Another workaround is scheduling your yearly checkup, if you haven’t already. During your visit, or when scheduling the appointment, ask your primary care physician if they can give you a flu shot.
Your Local College
Many nearby colleges and universities often have a clinic that serves students and the community. If they don’t, they should be able to refer you to the free or low-cost clinics in the area that offer affordable flu shots,
This is especially helpful if you’re a student and you’re trying to save money in college.
Your Kids’ School
If you want your children to get vaccinated and are looking to do it cheaply, check with their school. Some grade schools offer low-cost flu shots to children and their parents.
This is especially helpful if flu shots aren’t covered by your employer or health insurance.
It never hurts to ask the office if they plan on offering shots.
How to Get Flu Shots Without Insurance
Not everyone has health insurance. If that’s the case for you, here are a few ways to get inexpensive flu shots without insurance.
Free clinics offer free or cheap flu vaccinations to those who qualify. Typically, you need to live in a certain ZIP code or you must meet an income threshold.
With some clinics, you don’t even need to set an appointment. You can walk in, receive your flu shot, and leave. Many free clinics tend to run out of shots early on, and some may have long wait times if they don’t offer appointments.
Your Local Health Department
If you have don’t mind waiting in a long line, you may be able to obtain a free flu shot through your county health department.
While some only offer free flu shots to children six months or older, the elderly, and the disabled, others will let anyone who wants a vaccination participate.
To receive a free flu shot at your local health department, make sure you review their website or call them for more information, dates, and potential costs.
Low-Cost Clinics In National Chains
There are several national chains that offer cheap flu shots to those without insurance:
- Costco. You don’t have to be a Costco member to use the pharmacy. This includes getting your vaccination for $19.99, making it one of the cheapest options.
- Walmart. Many Walmart locations offer the flu shot to anyone eight years of age or older. Due to different wait times, cost, and availability at each location, it’s best to call ahead. Some locations even advertise in store when they’re giving out flu shots. Walmart charges $25 for flu shots if your insurance does not cover it.
- Walgreens. Walgreens doesn’t have a walk-in option for flu shots. However, unlike other national chains, they offer cheap flu shots for kids 18 months or older. This is a great option if you need to get your children taken care of as well. Walgreens charges $31.99 for flu shots in most locations.
- CVS. CVS is one of the only national chains that carries the high dose flu shot. At $25 for a shot, it does so at a significantly cheaper cost than many doctors’ offices. If you need the high dose shot, this is your most cost-effective option.
- Target. Stop by any CVS MinuteClinic located inside Target to get a free flu shot and receive a $5 coupon.
Check local grocery stores as their in-store clinics may also offer free or cheap vaccinations. You may also want to consider GoodRx as a way to save money if you don’t have insurance or need cold or flu medicine.
Why You Should Get a Flu Shot
The flu virus can be very dangerous. In 2021 alone, there were at least 82,000 reported hospital stays, according to the CDC.
The shot protects you and your loved ones from the various flu strains. Children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible, but you can reduce their chances of contracting the flu by getting vaccinated.
How to Prevent The Flu
Besides a flu shot, there are other ways you can prevent the flu from spreading:
- Get your shot on time. Sometimes, just getting vaccinated doesn’t mean you won’t contract the flu. Make sure you’re vaccinated at the right time. The earlier, the better.
- Wash your hands! And use hand sanitizer often. This helps reduce the chance of spreading germs.
- Don’t cough or sneeze in your hand or uncovered. This may seem like a no-brainer, but kids (and many adults) need a reminder every now and then.
- Regularly wipe down surfaces with disinfectant wipes, especially if you’ve been in close contact with someone who’s sick. Wipe down your shopping carts and any public doors before touching them. If you can’t wipe them down before using them, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Stay healthy. Remember to get plenty of rest, eat a well-balanced diet, drink enough water, and exercise regularly. A healthy body is a happy body.
It’s relatively easy to prevent the flu. Living wisely, and consciously, can make a big difference.
Get your flu shot early this season. Doing so will keep your family healthy and reduce the risk of lost time at work due to illness.
There are many ways to get affordable flu shots, so stop procrastinating and get one today.
What are some other things you do to stay healthy during fall and winter?
Kim Suazo has been a freelance writer and business owner for over four years. When she's not writing for Frugal Rules, you can find her on other publications like Chime, Discovery, and Due. She also owns her own websites The Entrepremomer and Part-Time Profit, where she teaches overworked moms how to streamline their new businesses so they can scale without a team.