Flu season is officially underway, and it’s time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already. You need to know where to go to get your flu shot, and—more importantly—how to make sure you don’t overpay. Did you know that flu shots can cost anywhere from $0 (yes, free) to $50 or more?
The importance of getting a flu shot can’t be overstated, especially for those who are at a higher risk like young children, pregnant women, older adults, and the immunocompromised or disabled. (If you’re living or traveling outside the US, you’re also at higher risk.)
Whether your insurance will cover your flu shot, or you need some help with the cost, here’s what you need to know.
Why is it so important to get vaccinated?
Having the flu makes you more susceptible to getting pneumonia—particularly in those high-risk groups. The flu virus is actually the most common cause of viral pneumonia and can cause bacterial pneumonia as well. Pneumonia is much more serious, and can be life-threatening to someone with a weaker immune system.
How much do flu shots normally cost?
Medicare Part B covers flu shots at 100% (meaning you pay nothing). Many other insurance plans will now also cover flu shots at no cost to you, because they are considered preventive care. Be aware though—if you get a shot from your doctor, there’s a chance you may still have to pay for the office visit.
Check with your plan and with the location where you’d like to get your vaccination for exact prices.
Do I need to get the flu shot from my doctor?
Over the past several years, flu vaccine accessibility has gotten much easier, in the hope that the vaccine will be available to a wide range of patients. The flu shot, and several other vaccines, are now available at places other than your doctor’s office—including your local pharmacy, clinics, your employer, and health departments.
If you want to get your flu shot from your doctor, check with the office first to see if they have the current flu vaccinations available for the 2015-2016 flu season. You may or may not need to make an appointment.
Where else can I get a flu shot?
There are several places you can get vaccinated for the 2015 – 2016 flu season.
- Your employer
- Drive-thru flu clinics
- Community center flu clinics
- School flu clinics
- Health departments
How can I find out where flu shots are available near me?
First, check GoodRx for discounts at flu shot prices at pharmacies in your area!
The flu vaccine finder from Flu.gov is also great tool for finding where to get vaccinated. You can find it here. The Flu.gov finder allows you to search by location, and to see a list of places near you that have the shot available. Keep in mind though, while the tool can be helpful, it isn’t all-inclusive. Try calling your location of choice if it’s not on this list—they may still offer flu shots.
Is there anywhere I can find low-cost or free flu shots?
There are many, many free clinics and events offering low-cost or free flu shots across the US. Watch for announcements on your local news station, or in the local newspaper—or search online for free flu shots in your area.
Many pharmacies also have programs offering discounts or other deals when you get a flu shot. For example:
- CVS offers a 20% off savings pass when you get a flu shot.
- Target has shots starting at $25, and offers 5% off your other purchases on the same day.
- Costco has shots starting at $15 (and a great list of tips on how to prepare for your shot.)
- Safeway offers 10% off your groceries when you get a flu shot.
- Walgreens doesn’t offer a discount, but they do have a “give a shot, get a shot” program. When you get vaccinated at Walgreens, they will provide a vaccine to a child in need.
- Walmart also offers flu shots starting at $25.
I need more help with the cost, what are my options?
Click on your state to see some examples of where to find free and reduced-cost flu shots near you, at clinics, health departments, and one-time events.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- District of Columbia