It’s time to get your flu shot!
Fortunately, there are many places to get vaccinated and no matter how you feel about shots, it should be relatively painless for your wallet. Here are some options to help you find a convenient and low-cost flu shot.
Pharmacists can administer the flu vaccine and advise you on which shot might work best for you. Most pharmacies accept walk-ins for flu shots so you won’t need an appointment, and most will accept insurance or Medicare. Many grocery and pharmacy chains also offer incentives for you to get your vaccine with them. For example:
- CVS offers a 20% off shopping pass when you get a flu shot.
- Flu shots count towards Target’s pharmacy rewards program.
- Safeway pharmacies offer 10% off groceries when you get vaccinated.
- Walgreens has a slightly different take with their Get a Shot, Give a Shot program—when you get vaccinated, they’ll provide a vaccine to a child in a developing country.
Your pharmacy may have offers available as well; check online or ask when you go in.
Government Health Departments
The health departments in several states and counties offer free and reduced cost vaccination programs. You’ll need to call, or visit the website for your area (there isn’t a central list of these programs) but you may find that you can get a free flu shot if you just check the schedule and show up. This might not be as convenient—there are often limited times and locations, and there may be a lot of other people waiting—but if you can make it, you can get your flu vaccine for free or at a reduced cost.
Here is a short, but definitely not complete, list of government agencies providing flu shots:
- Los Angeles County, California
- Orange County, California
- Dallas County, Texas
- Camden County, New Jersey
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky is offering a “Free Flu Drive Thru” on October 9, 2014
- The State of Hawaii offers a “Stop Flu at School” program, where flu shots are available for free to all children attending participating schools
More information is available on all of the above public health websites. There are lots of these programs out there, so be sure to check with your county, state, or city to see if they offer one.
Organizations and Clinics
Community clinics, health centers, and hospitals often offer vaccines for free or at a reduced cost to anyone who is eligible. Some locations list information online, but this route might require a little bit more legwork. Keep an eye out in your local paper or on the news, and check out the following examples. If you’re in these areas on the following dates, swing by for a free flu shot!
- St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 8 AM to 12 PM: SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and St. Mary’s Health Center will offer free flu shots in their first ever drive-thru flu shot clinic. The clinic is for anyone over 3 years of age and will be in the Ronald McDonald House parking lot on Park Ave. The shots are on a first-come first-serve basis and are available while supplies last.
- Also in St. Louis beginning Monday, September 29th through Thursday, October 2nd: Barnes Jewish Hospital will be offering free flu shots in the hospital’s main lobby and at the Center for Advanced Medicine on Parkview Place.
- San Diego, California on Friday, September 26, 2014: The San Diego Health and Human Services Agency will be giving away 500 free flu shots to adults 18 and older at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center on 6401 Skyline Drive.
- Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday, September 27, 2014: Bon Secours is offering a drive-thru clinic with free flu shots at 4 different locations.
- Bronx, New York on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 from 10 AM to 2 PM: St. Gabriel’s Church is offering free flu shots to adults 18 years of age and older who are not allergic to eggs.
- Yakima, Washington on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 9 AM to 2 PM: The Veterans Benefits Fair at State Fair Park will be offering free flu shots for veterans.
- Clark County Wisconsin during the month of October: The Clark County Health Department is offering free flu shots for children under 18.
- Many colleges and universities may offer free or reduced-cost vaccines to students—including state schools like the University of Florida or the University of Minnesota, and universities like Duke or Columbia.
- Look for other organizations that offer free or reduced-cost flu shots as well, like Say Boo to the Flu.
So, now you know where to go—how do you pay for the vaccine?
- Good news this year—under the new ACA preventative care rules, flu shots should be free under many insurance plans. It’s likely that your local pharmacy will accept your insurance, but be sure to confirm before you get the shot. Coverage could vary depending on your plan or which version of the vaccine you get.
- Many clinics and health departments will also take your insurance, and you can schedule an appointment with your doctor if none of the other options work for you.
Medicare Part B?
- If you’re eligible, the high-dose flu vaccine (FluZone High-Dose) is covered under your Medicare Part B plan with no co-pay—at no cost to you.
- You can walk in to almost any local pharmacy and you should be covered. Your doctor can also provide you with the vaccine.
- It’s hard to beat free—if you have a free vaccination program in your area, that’s your best bet. Otherwise, the CDC’s HealthMap vaccine finder can tell you which local pharmacies have certain versions of the vaccine available, and in some cases, how much each vaccine will cost. Check it out here.