Kids are back in school, the weather is cooling down—fall is here. Unfortunately, along with the great parts of the season (like pumpkin-flavored everything and football) comes everyone’s least favorite part: germs.
There is no better time than right now to protect yourself and your loved ones from this season’s flu virus. Many local pharmacies already have this year’s flu vaccinations in stock, so keep an eye out!
Isn’t it too early for a flu shot?
NO! Flu season usually peaks in the US in the colder months of December or January, but it can begin as early as October.
How long does it take for the flu shot to start to work?
It take up to 2 weeks for the vaccination to fully protect you against the flu. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting the vaccinated as soon as it becomes available, or at least by the month of October.
How long will my flu shot last?
In most healthy individuals the flu shot should last you the entire flu season.
However, this can be different from person to person due to the variation in the amount of flu antibodies we each produce from the vaccination.
Do I have choices for how to get the flu vaccine?
Yes! The flu vaccine is available in the following forms:
- Intramuscular injection. This is the most common, the typical flu shot.
- Nasal spray. This may be easier to take, especially if you or your child have an aversion to shots. Be aware that there may be more flu-like side effects and more restrictions on who can use this form of the vaccine.
- Intradermal injection. Another possibility for those who don’t like needles, this vaccine has a much smaller needle that injects the vaccine into the skin instead of the muscle. This one is only available for adults ages 18 – 64.
Most pharmacies stock the intramuscular injection, which also comes in a few variations:
- Trivalent: Most typical flu shots are trivalent. These protect against three major flu strains.
- Quadrivalent: These protect against four major flu strains. This year, the nasal spray will also be quadrivalent.
- High Dose (HD): High dose shots are the first choice for anyone over the age of 65. These also protect against three major flu strains, but have a higher dose for a better immune response in older patients. They are also covered by Medicare Plan B.
Where can I get a flu shot?
First, most local pharmacies have convenient, no appointment needed, walk-up service for the flu shot. They aren’t your only option though—some other places that may offer flu vaccinations for the 2014-2015 season include:
- Your doctor’s office
- Health Department
- Your place of employment
- Flu clinics
- Urgent care clinics
- College health centers
Need help locating where to get your flu vaccination this year?
Check out HealthMap Vaccine Finder! If you need a special vaccine (high dose, nasal spray, etc), you can search to see which pharmacies or other locations in your area can help.
Where can I find more information about the 2014 – 2015 flu vaccine?
When you’re vaccinated, you should receive a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) from the CDC. In case you’d like to take a look beforehand, you can also find this year’s VIS here.
How much will the flu shot cost?
The typical out-of-pocket cost for an intramuscular flu shot can range from around $25 to $75 depending which strength is selected.
What can I do to save on a flu shot?
- Look in your area for a clinic, organization, or pharmacy offering a free flu shot program. There are some available every year, though you may need to go on a particular day or time to be able to get the shot for free.
- Check GoodRx for a discount—yes, you can use a coupon on flu shots too! Find the full list here.
- Ask your pharmacy if they can price match if you find another pharmacy in your area offering the flu shot for less.
- Many pharmacies have store savings programs, where the cost of the flu shot will count just like groceries or other items purchased in the store—this won’t be a direct savings but might help get you a discount at the store later.
- Some employers will provide flu shot vouchers that will cover the cost of the vaccination if you go to a participating pharmacy.
- Medicare B will cover the cost for the HD flu shot.